Top 5 Tips - Avoiding Defamation on Social Media
Social media provides enormous opportunities for businesses to promote and expand their message, as well as encouraging the free flow of information. But the all-pervasive nature of social media brings some unique challenges to businesses with an online presence.
Information published online, no matter in whatever forum, does not enjoy some special form of protection. The risk of being sued for defamation is real! Even businesses who merely facilitate online posts by third parties risk liability if those posts are defamatory of others.
So what are the 5 most important things businesses need to do to minimise the risk of being sued for online defamation?
Firstly, establish appropriate policies. This means having a good social media policy and ensuring that any controversial material is vetted by designated employees before being posted online.
Secondly, check your facts - don't post unfounded assertions about a person or a business, or repeat juicy rumours with no proper basis.
Thirdly, train your staff - educate them on the basics of defamation, and provide annual training about your social media policy, not just for managers and employees, but also your executives and the board.
Fourthly, if your business has a website which enables comments to be posted by members of the public, review those comments regularly and remove anything you think is offensive or potentially defamatory. As they say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Fifthly, act quickly when put on notice of a complaint - this means removing the material which is alleged to be defamatory, consider it carefully, and better still obtain some legal advice about the risks of reinstating the material online.
All parts of your business have a role to play in ensuring social media works for you, and that defamation claims are few and far between!