Your chances of suffering a loss is increasingly affected by your use of the Internet and, particularly, social media. Increasing your awareness of social media liability loss exposures may help you to minimize or avoid them.
Social Media Liability refers to claims for libel, slander, harassment, invasions of privacy, violations of intellectual property rights, and even improper employment practices resulting from the use of social media sites, including Facebook, InstaGram, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, etc. Some coverage exists for business as well as for personal exposures to such losses.
Most business insurance policies include personal and advertising injury coverage that provides some protection for libel, slander, and derogatory remarks as well as invasion of privacy. Some homeowners and renters policies also provide personal and advertising injury. Standard business forms may contain language that provides limited coverage because they refer to material published on the Internet or to electronic communications. Coverage may also exist because protection for suits involving libel and slander may make reference to defending against and, if needed, covering claims due to incidents of publishing or broadcasting information in any manner.
Individuals who blog or who maintain watchdog Web sites (consumer sites that monitor specific companies or products), may be susceptible to claims of defamation or invasion of privacy. Casual users of social network sites may inadvertently post comments about a current or former lover that are defamatory, especially after a divorce or messy breakup.
Businesses’ networking-related exposures are typically related to business activities. Businesses may, for example, misattribute the ownership of a Web site to a lower level employee in order to shield the business. That employee may sue for false invasion of privacy, especially if the Web site contains sordid or proprietary material. Business managers may also announce firings or disclose personal information about their employees that may create lawsuits. Personal networking-related exposures run the gamut of claims, including accusing individuals of crimes, infidelity, failure to pay child support, disclosure of personal or financial information, posting of pictures or videos in compromising positions, etc.
See Social Media - Part 2 for more information on claims and protection.