Protect yourself against your mouth and thumbs

03 November 2017 - 14:54 By Farren Collins
On Monday the company launched its liability insurance policy‚ “which is basically a legal insurance cover” for people who may face legal action because of what they said online.
On Monday the company launched its liability insurance policy‚ “which is basically a legal insurance cover” for people who may face legal action because of what they said online.
Image: Supplied

If you’re prone to brain farts on social media‚ a company has come up with a way to protect you from yourself.

A South African insurance company - SHA Specialist Underwriters - has become the first to offer coverage to clients for protection against rash statements and views on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

On Monday the company launched its liability insurance policy‚ “which is basically a legal insurance cover” for people who may face legal action because of what they said online.

“We cover the legal defence costs and‚ if the case is unsuccessfully defended in court‚ then it also pays the damages awarded by the judge‚” said Simon Coleman‚ head of commercial liability at SHA.

“Any adult who uses social media gets protection against litigation for defamation or invasion of privacy. [But] we don’t cover any allegations of racism or any cultural or religious discrimination.”

All social media platforms are covered‚ including WhatsApp - “basically anywhere where you can publish content”‚ Coleman said.

There are 16 million Facebook users in the country‚ 7.7 million on Twitter and LinkedIn has about 6.1 million users‚ according to the Ornico SA Social Media Landscape report for 2018.

Coleman said the rate at which social media use is growing in South Africa prompted the idea for the specialised insurance.

He said: “We know South Africans are interacting more and more on social media and we also know that we’re becoming and increasingly litigious society.

“So‚ typically‚ if someone posts something without thinking carefully about it they don’t really have any control about how that message is going to be received.

“There is a tendency to react when something is said on social media and if there is a liability there then surely people should be allowed to insure themselves against it.”

Coleman believed that people would not use the fact they were insured to behave recklessly on social media‚ just as drivers don’t rely on their insurance to drive badly.

“It [just] takes away the sting if someone has misinterpreted something you said and then you can at least defend yourself using the insurance rather than digging into your bank account‚” he said.

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