Get insured against that big, fat Twittermouth

06 November 2017 - 07:42 By Suthentira Govender
Specialist insurers warned that by using social media platforms millions of people unknowingly expose themselves to possible lawsuits. File photo.
Specialist insurers warned that by using social media platforms millions of people unknowingly expose themselves to possible lawsuits. File photo.
Image: Supplied

Liability insurance against a possible costly lawsuit for that offensive Facebook or Twitter rant is becoming increasingly important for South African social media users.

Specialist insurers Stalker Hutchison Admiral warned that by using these platforms millions of people unknowingly expose themselves to possible lawsuits.

According to the Ornico social media landscape for 2018,16 million people use Facebook in South Africa alone, followed by 7.7 million on Twitter and 6.1 million on LinkedIn.

Stalker Hutchison Admiral's Simon Colman said: "Increased use of social media platforms on mobile phones has even further increased the ease with which people can post to any social media platform.

"It simply takes one, usually unintentionally, offensive post that can lead to defamation or invasion of privacy actions."

The legal firm has launched Slip-uP, a liability product, through its broker database.

The policy will not cover individuals who have published racial slurs on social media.

"Stalker Hutchison Admiral has specifically excluded defamatory or offensive comments relating to race, culture or religion."

Colman said there were numerous examples of people who found themselves in hot water on social media for saying something they believed to be fairly innocuous.

"It's safe to say that any social media user could make a statement that is not meant to cause any harm but that may lead to public outrage, which can have devastating consequences for the individual," he said.

"People just don't realise that they are practically walking around with a digital publishing company in their pockets, without applying the same levels of sensibilities that a professional publisher or journalist would.

"To make matters worse, just retweeting or sharing a post can create liability."

Colman added that parents could also be in the firing line for their children's social media slip-ups.

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