Best Buy employee outs customer on Facebook as a joke?

A man leaves his phone at Best Buy for repair. Soon after he leaves it, his Facebook status declares he's gay. He isn't. He says he is told that the store has fired the employee.

Rich Dewberry, the perplexed Best Buy customer. ABC 7 News/ Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Strange things sometimes happen when you're in Best Buy.

Not so long ago, some people were shocked, others awed, when a Best Buy in Greenville, S.C. displayed porn on many of its largest screens .

Now comes the troubling complaint of a man in Denver who says he left his cell phone at Best Buy for repair, only to discover shortly afterward that his Facebook status had suddenly outed him as gay, which he happens not to be.

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"It just put a bad taste in mouth," Rich Dewberry told ABC affiliate KMGH.

His Facebook status update read: "I am gay. Im coming out."

"My phone just started ringing constantly after that," Dewberry told KMGH. Quite a few people seemed surprised by this status update, not least of which was Dewberry's ex-wife.

Best Buy had given him a new phone. On the old one, though, he had forgotten to log out of Facebook. The timing of the message suggested that it had come from that old phone that he'd left in the caring hands of Best Buy.

Dewberry says he was told that the employee was fired. When KMGH called to see if this was the case, the company didn't offer confirmation but did give a statement.

This was a model of implication: "Each year, every employee of Best Buy is asked to review and sign our Code of Ethics, which includes details on how they are expected to handle customer information."

Dewberry feels he shouldn't have to keep explaining to people that he isn't gay. He is reportedly exploring what legal options he might have.

His attorney, Linda Lee, told ABC News: "The real problem with Best Buy is they didn't seem to have any procedures or safeguards to make sure this doesn't happen. I have all sorts of information on my cell phone. For Best Buy not to have procedures to protect their customers' privacy, that is a problem."

Many will imagine that, if these accusations are proved to be accurate, someone within Best Buy thought this might be funny.

Some, though, might wonder just how ubiquitous, normal and second-naturish Facebook has become.

It's so easy to leave one's Facebook page wide open at the office or even at home, when a miffed lover or alleged friends might tamper with one's status or other innards.

Still, when you give any gadget to supposed experts, you're making a vast assumption of their honesty. For you are making access to at least some of your information easy. When you go to a Genius Bar, the sweet-faced brains ask for your password, don't they?

Just imagine all the sources of fun they might find on your MacBook or your iPhone. Just imagine what they could do with those sources. You know, just for a laugh.

 

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