According to the Associated Press, doctors in Europe are warning that Facebook may trigger an asthma attack in susceptible users. According to the reports, such an attack was triggered in an 18-year old man after he logged onto Facebook and saw how many men his ex-girlfriend had “friended”. The AP quoted a letter published in the medical journal Lancet, which described the victim as having been dumped, and then un-friended, by his girlfriend, and that the sight of seeing her linked to many new male friends “seemed to induce [shortness of breath], which happened repeatedly on the patient accessing her profile.”
Fortunately, the asthma attacks were dramatically reduced when the man consulted with a psychiatrist and “decided not to log into Facebook anymore.”
Employer Take Away: What should you as an employer take away from this development? Clearly, this is one of those extreme, somewhat comical, social media accounts. But it also serves as another good reminder of other general points made in our prior “social media advisor” posts. First, whether employees are checking the profiles of their current or former dating partners, or engaging in other personal activities, on company time, it is important to find the proper (and lawful) balance of effective policies and monitoring to reduce diminishing productivity in the workplace. Second, it also bears repeating that serious health conditions and disabilities, whether the result of, or expressed during, social networking activities should not be dismissed out of hand, but should be addressed by the company as you would if the situation did not arise out of a social media-related event. That is true even if the end result after your due diligence is that the story is worth little more than a smile and a chuckle at your Thanksgiving table.