We are living in a challenging time.
Some of us are scared, angry, anxious, sad, confused, or just tired. Our ability to socialize is once again getting squeezed with the increase of COVID-19 cases in our state. Getting together with friends and family to share our feelings and frustrations has been a coping mechanism for many of us. It’s been “safe” to do this as our words are likely to be taken in context and hopefully not repeated if they are defamatory (especially if we’ve had a few too many cold ones!)
With fewer social gatherings and crummy feelings mounting, more people are turning to social media to share their feelings and frustrations. This could mean more people seeing words that could be visible for a long time. Depending on what you are putting out there, this could increase the chances of being sued for defamation of character. What then? This is where we exit the social media system and enter the legal system. Civil suits for defamation of character are on the rise.
Homeowner policies have “personal liability coverage” that provides legal defense and awarded damages for when someone alleges that you’re at fault for their physical injuries or damaged property. An optional coverage on the homeowner policy called “personal injury coverage” expands the definition of personal liability to include things like damaging someone’s reputation. This coverage has limitations and is intended to address scenarios where the defamation of character was unintentional.
Here’s my point today: please be careful with social media.
It’s one thing to thoughtfully present an argument or viewpoint. Even an angry argument or viewpoint. However, if you get carried away, you could be doing more harm than you intended. Insurance really is not the answer on this one. If you enjoy expressing yourself on social media, call your agent to discuss your exposure to lawsuits and how your homeowner’s policy will and will not protect you.
If you’re angry and feeling isolated, remember: cell phones are still phones. Call someone. Cry. Yell. Talk to your pastor about James 1:19. Don’t forget — we’re all in this together. It’s time to build bridges, not burn them!