The Social Security Administration, in concert with President Trump, is proposing to use such social media as Facebook to help determine if Social Security disability beneficiaries are truly unable to work.
A Simple But Disturbing Idea
The idea is as simple as it is disturbing: Social Security essentially wants the right to view social media postings to see who is doing what. For example, a Social Security disability beneficiary who claims a
bad back but posts an image of himself cutting down trees.
It Seems Reasonable . . .
On the surface of it, there does not seem to be a genuine objection to this plan. After all, people post pictures and videos of themselves voluntarily. Social Security has a need to root out fraud. They are looking at the same
media that is available to anyone.
Every Picture Tells A Story
But, it is not quite this simple. First, a photograph or even a video does not tell a complete story. Even the most disabled people have good days. When they are having a good day, the disabled typically try to make the most of it. This means getting out and accomplishing things. These same people are not
likely to post pictures of themselves lain up in bed for the next three days. Also, some disabilities simply do not show up in photographs. Think of people with epilepsy. They can appear hale and hearty when not having a seizure.
The Harm That Men Do
You cannot discount the risk of people posting misleading media about the disabled. In my experience,
almost all Social Security fraud investigations start with an angry ex-friend or jealous family member making a report. Think how easy it would be for these sorts of people to cause all manner of trouble for the disabled by posting old or edited photographs.
A Chilling Effect On Free Speech?
In addition, Social Security's proposed plan would have a chilling effect on the disabled. Knowing that Social Security might be watching them could cause some Social Security disability beneficiaries to not post anything at all on social media.
Risk Is Probably Non-Existent
In any event, Social Security is slow and inefficient at everything they do. This includes finding fraud. The risk to the disabled of being found out on social media is about zero.
What Would The NRA Do?
That said, it is troubling that a branch of the Federal government is proposing to monitor citizens like this. Imagine the reaction if the FBI said they planned to monitor social media to ensure that gun owners were using their weapons