Cyber Insurance: When a Social Media Post Becomes a Legal Matter
You hear it from everyone; your business needs to be on Facebook and you need to be making posts on a regular basis. Many times, companies assign this seemingly simple task to interns or younger, more inexperienced members of their staff because, well, the younger generation grew up on social media so they must be experts at it.
Time and time again, we’re seeing that no group of people are experts at it. Many people including politicians, CEO’s and interns are getting companies in hot water over mistakes they’ve made on social media or blog posts.
Ill-Advised Post vs Legal Matter
Is It Harassing?
When it comes to cyber crimes, “obscene electronic communication” refers to unwanted and persistent contact over the phone or Internet (i.e., email or social media interaction). Even if you hire a company to tweet or interact through social media on behalf of your business, you could still be held accountable if the recipient finds the communication to be “harassing,” “annoying,” or “molesting.”
In addition, you or your company can be prosecuted for committing obscene electronic communication if the state can prove that, “You made electronic contact or caused contact to be made repeatedly.” Though “repeatedly” is subjective, your state will define what number of touches qualifies as too much. In Massachusetts this means 3 or more times. The sole purpose of making repeated electronic contact was to harass, annoy, or molest a person or their family.
Is It Defamatory?
If an action can be proven to be damaging of the good reputation of someone, whether it be slander or libel, you could be a target for legal action. This could be in a post itself, or more commonly, in a response to a comment of a post. This is the area that needs to be moderated carefully as the comment section of social media posts often get heated and off-topic.
Protecting Yourself: Where to Start
Many companies are posting dozens of times per day. Some through a designated Community Manager but some may also be through employee comments and shared posts. While allowing and encouraging employees to engage on social media can be a great asset for a business, it’s best to have a social media policy in place that is distributed to all employees.
A Social Media Policy is a corporate code of conduct that provides guidelines for employees who post content on the Internet either as part of their job or as a private person. Without an official Social Media Policy, it’s difficult to prove that the posts or comments of a rouge employee were not sanctioned by the employee’s company.
Some samples of social media policies can be found here – http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies/
Cyber Liability Insurance
When plausible deniability just isn’t enough, Cyber Liability Insurance helps companies recoup losses. Here are some of the issues that Cyber Liability Insurance covers:
- Privacy Liability
- Security Liability
- Website Media Liability
- First Party Cyber Extortion
- First Party Privacy Breach Response
- Customer Notification Expense
- Credit Monitoring Expense
- Computer and Legal Forensic Expense
- Credit and Identity Repair Expense
- First Party Business Interruption and Data Recovery Extra Expense
- Regulatory Defense and Penalty
For more information on Cyber Liability Insurance contact us at: