Using Social Media – Could You Be Liable?

by | Uncategorized

Whether you’re posting to FaceBook, setting up your profile on LinkedIn, Tweeting, chatting, blogging or engaging in any one of the many online activities that keep us connected these days—you need to be aware of the liability issues that surround social media.

Let’s explore some of these issues and what you or your company can do to stay protected.

What are the issues?

Many of the liability issues that arise when using social media are not new in themselves – libel, slander, defamation and disparagement, invasion of privacy, copyright infringement, plagiarism, trademark infringement etc.  However, while most of us would think long and hard about publishing a disparaging article in the newspaper, we may not think much of a brief lament in a quick Tweet. And the instant nature of social media makes it very easy to succumb to the emotions of the moment.  In fact, a recent survey found that of Canadians who reported posting comments online, 18 percent later regretted what they had posted.

Companies also need to be aware of the liability exposure that these media present.  A company is generally viewed as responsible for actions taken by its employees if these are determined to be within the scope of their employment.  While this line has always existed with other communications tools, in the evolving world of social media there is a graying of the lines and therefore the risks can become a little more complex.

What steps can you take to protect yourself or your  company?

The following guidelines are a good place to start:

  • Think twice.  It may only take a second to upload, but it could take a lifetime to live down.
  • Be aware of copyright and trademark infringement issues.
  • Avoid disclosing any information that could be considered confidential.
  • Remember the World Wide Web is exactly that – global, and laws related to social media will vary from place to place.  Be informed.

In addition to the above, companies should:

  • Establish, distribute and continually update a social media policy for your company.
  • Establish a social media PR contact/team that is trained to respond promptly to any issues that arise.
  • Monitor all your social media outlets.  Do you host a discussion forum or have a corporate FaceBook fan page?  Check and monitor the content posted by others.

Is there anything more you should do?

Taking the above precautions can go a long way to protecting you personally or professionally from a liability suit arising from social media usage.  However, issues can still arise and therefore a review of your current insurance coverage in light of these new concerns is a good idea.  Discuss your liability coverage requirements with your insurance provider and get protected!

At Park Insurance, we believe in offering our customers more than just insurance policies, we offer our customers insurance expertise. We encourage you to call or visit us with your insurance questions, we are here to help.

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