Reputational Harm from Social Media
Has social media caused reputational harm to your business? With social platforms at our fingertips, we have the ability to post what is on our mind at any given time to an audience of potentially millions. It’s no surprise that some people don’t understand or appreciate this power and make statements to the public that cause harm. Reputational harm is serious, and not understanding the risks could cause major problems for your business.
What is slander and what is libel? According to the Insurance and Risk Management Institute, slander is an “…oral statement of untrue, defamatory remarks that lower a person’s esteem in his or her community that gives rise to a legal cause of action against the speaker.” Libel has a very similar definition but is committed through a written publication instead of a spoken statement. Through the use of social media and web communications like blogs and podcasts, these exposures are faced by businesses every day. Employers should institute policies for employees who may speak on behalf of the business in any forum. The consequences of an allegation of libel or slander could prove costly and are not always covered by a liability insurance policy.
How do businesses protect themselves from reputational harm and these types of liabilities? First, employees must be trained to speak factually when speaking or writing about others, especially if they choose to mention a competitor. Second, review coverage with your insurance professional to ensure you have personal and advertising injury coverage. This insurance provides a range of liability protections not only for libel and slander, but also for advertising of goods and services, invasion of privacy, copyright infringement and other exposures. Another question to ask your agent or broker is if your defense costs are included in the limit of coverage shown on your declaration page. If they are, your cost of defense eats away at the total payout available for a claim, resulting in potentially higher out-of-pocket costs to your business.