WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2016
With the upcoming elections in full swing, our newsfeeds are inundated with coverage of both candidates. Trump said this or Hilary did that is the front page news. Rule number one in business is that one should never talk politics, but we can definitely talk about a part of the campaign. No one is immune to the slam advertising that is so prominent when the presidential election rolls around. Both candidates have criticized their competitor in very public, negative ways. One could even argue to the point that it defamed their character. We see this on a small scale within our towns in personal life and social media, but what happens when it causes real damage?
Defamation of character is a big deal. Just ask any of the 27 million businesses in the US that could face a defamation lawsuit. Defamation refers to a false statement issued about another person that causes that said person to suffer somehow. If it's written—such as in the paper or Facebook—it's called libel. If the statement is spoken, it’s known as slander. With the creation of social media a new outlet for opinions, good and bad, was formed. While you may think that your account is a private medium to share information, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc, are actually considered public forums by the court’s standards. According to the court cases, even if users have taken precautions to make certain content private the victim only has to show one person, as even an email sent to one person has provided justification for an award in a libel case. The good news is that most business owner policies and many commercial policies provide coverage for libel, slander, and copyright infringement. This would only cover you within the realm of business practices. Most social media libel cases tend to fall into the other realm of personal liability. Most homeowners companies are able to add in additional coverage that would provide some coverage in the event that a lawsuit does occur, but they usually must be requested to be added specifically. Hopefully, Trump and Hilary have a really good policy.
Momma always taught us if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all…but we’re all human. Before you find yourself in this situation, find out if you have this coverage and if not, add it. In a litigious society and so many forums readily available to express your every thought, it may be better to err on the side of caution.
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