This is an alarming story. A client of mine came into my office having been in a car accident a few days back. She informed me that the day after the accident, she was sent a message by the adjuster assigned to handle the claim for the at fault driver's insurance company, Progressive. This adjuster had contacted my client through facebook and "friended" her, and wanted to talk to her about the accident.
My client had the foresight not to respond to the insurance adjuster's "friend" request. I would strongly urge anyone else in her position to do the same. The insurance adjuster for the opposing insurance company in an accident case is inherently not your "friend." By contacting my client on facebook, the insurance company representative was attempting to manipulate my client to my client's disadvantage and to Progressive Insurance Company's advantage. This is not new. This is just how insurance companies operate.
I have written before about the potential dangers of social media to personal injury litigants. There are real perils to publishing anything on the net. But the fact that insurance adjusters are reaching out to accident victims as a means of communicating with them is a new development.
I would guess that people who have facebook pages generally would not envision that their facebook page would be used as a method of communication similar to how the telephone is used or how e mail is used. Nevertheless, social media and social networking really is just one more form of electronic communication; but my client certainly felt as though her privacy had been invaded by the insurance adjuster who "friended" her.
I think the lesson here is that as we use various forms of technological communication, including social media like facebook, to keep our family and friends informed of what's going on in our lives, we have to be aware that we may be exposing ourselves to unwanted communication. Confidentiality becomes a slippery issue for anyone who uses social media. We are all easier to find on the net. The fact that I have pictures of my family on my facebook page does not mean it is a private photo album. Quite the contrary once it's on the net.
In one sense I am impressed by the Progressive Insurance Company insurance adjuster's ingenuity in using facebook to contact my client. In another sense I am appalled.