The risks of Social media…understanding online defamation:

Understanding you and your family’s risks are important when it comes to public statements or publishing on the internet.

Social media platforms of Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter are great tools but the users must understand the risks associated with there use.  Unless you read every word of the user agreement or have a background in defamation law, we doubt the risks are truly comprehended by all in this evolving “social media focused” society.

As a user of social media, it is important to understand the risk.


In 1995, Congress passed the Communications Decency Act, which protects ISPs and website hosts from defamation claims, therefore the party that is injured or damaged will seek damages from you.   In this case you are the unprotected party, which increases your risk.

Insurance and how you control you and your family’s actions are two key risk management steps in this issue.

According to David Berg,

There are two main types of defamation: libel, or written defamation, and slander, or verbal defamation. When a potentially defamatory statement is made online or through social media — such as via Facebook or Linkedin — that involves the written (or “posted”) word, and so it is considered libel.

The internet and social media are certainly a great thing for people and society in general, but they are also a uniquely effective breeding ground for potentially libelous statements.  Many people have learned (to their dismay) that the internet allows people to speak their mind almost too easily. The internet is chock-full of interesting web sites where someone could intentionally or accidentally leave a potentially defamatory comment or post.

Guidance for parents and young adults:

According to Timothy O’Brien, there are a lot of Web-based content providing practical guidance we can offer to help parents adopt some family best practices, including these:


If you have an online platform BUY Blogger insurance…and most importantly be careful about what you write online. Confirm facts, truthful statements aren’t defamation.


If you are an individual… BUY Umbrella Insurance, it will cover you for things such as libel and slander, that are typically not covered under your homeowners or auto policy.

Although the risk of personal injury is not new, now that everyone in a family has access to a medium to publish online, it is important for families to discuss with their younger members (children and adolescents) the risks associated with these platforms.  Every negative review, kids teasing each other online or “cyber-bullying”, altering images for humor, anytime you publish increases your risk.  The internet was not created with evil intent, although the intent and use can diverge overtime keep your behavior and use inline with the intent.

Also protect yourself, most insurance professionals’ recommendation is to buy a minimum $1M in Umbrella insurance, and if you can afford to buy more – do it.

Each individual or business must review its own risk related to this topic when determine coverage limits, we always practice the philosophy of the more insurance the more the better.

This is an area that will continue to evolve with court decisions and time, keep in mind if you don’t have insurance protection your Net worth can be exposed in the event of a suit.  Even defense costs to prove your innocence will be expensive.  As an InsuranceShark you will be able to out-swim the risk associated with this new exposure.

Please Contact Us if you have any specific individual questions or comment below to add to the discussion.

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Arnold Smith

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