WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley is seeking answers from a Florida assisted living facility in the news over criminal charges filed against an employee alleging she violated the privacy of two residents using Snapchat.  The case is the latest example of exploitive videos or photos involving elder care facilities on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.

“This reported behavior, perpetrated against one of the most vulnerable populations in our country, is absolutely abhorrent,” Grassley wrote to the administrator of the Bristol Court Assisted Living Facility in St. Petersburg.

News reports described charges of voyeurism against an employee who reportedly recorded a man and woman having consensual sex and posted the video to Snapchat.  Grassley sought details of the facility’s social media policies, the enforcement of those policies, employee screening prior to hiring, a description of all supervisory guidelines that govern employee conduct, and how current policies address prior violations over other matters.  

Grassley has been battling humiliating social media posts involving nursing home or assisted living residents since last year.   His efforts have led to several improvements, including a detailed memo from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to nursing home safety inspectors explaining that social media exploitation is a prohibited form of abuse.  

“Punishment is critical.  Prevention is critical,” Grassley said.  “That means the nursing home or assisted living facility has to enforce measures that prevent inappropriate social media use.  It means the social media companies should prevent their platforms from being used in the commission of crimes and abuse, especially against vulnerable populations.  And it means the state and federal agencies that govern nursing home quality have to prevent and punish social media exploitation to the fullest extent under the law.”

Grassley’s letter to the Florida facility is available here