As social media use becomes increasingly ingrained in our daily lives, the potential for something we post to be taken out of context or misconstrued is only going to increase.
When adults are being sued for negative yelp reviews and parents are being held liable for their child’s Facebook use, it seems the more active your family is on the Internet—and particularly social media—the greater the potential you could have to defend yourself from a lawsuit.
Just take cyberbullying, for example. A recent study found 43% of teens were victims of cyberbullying the previous year. A Google search for “cyberbullying lawsuit” results in 382,000 results, pointing to specific suits filed in California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, and elsewhere.
For parents the risks associated with social media use are magnified due to several factors. Children, especially teenagers, often have multiple social media accounts, are the most active of users and the earliest adopters of new technologies. These factors when combined with a lack of understanding for the permanence and potential repercussions of information they share can lead to significant problems for parents.
Since there is no exact formula for determining the exact amount of risk you face, the key is to understand what you could be liable for and just how serious these risks can be.
During a recent conversation about liability and social media use, Joe Clark of Willis Private Client mentioned, “Most people aren’t aware of the risk they face from children posting, tweeting, and blogging. Unrealized risks like Internet and social media—especially for the affluent—are some of the most often overlooked areas of personal risk programs.”
Not everyone’s risk is the same
For those in prominent positions or in professions considered high earning, it is exponentially more important to take steps to mitigate as much of the risk as possible. In today’s litigious society, paying to defend you or your family from a mere accusation could easily exhaust the limits of even a high-end homeowner’s policy. It is important to take a concrete look at how much risk you are willing to accept. An in-depth look at your assets, liabilities, and earnings potential provide a basis for calculating your risk potential.
Below are a few best practices to consider when establishing a family social media policy.
Our tips for to protect your family on social media:
- Use the privacy settings on social networks
- Use strong passwords – (12 characters, include numbers, symbols, capital and lower-case letters)
- Talk to your kids about the dangers of social media, emphasizing that once something is posted, is there forever.
- Consider establishing family rules to govern social media use
- Regularly check your child’s privacy settings
- Keep your security software, operating systems, and firewalls up to date.
The fact that a lifetime of work and assets could be wiped out with one settlement, is a very real possibility. Start by assessing your family’s potential for risk. Take steps to reduce the risk by following our tips and incorporating social media best practices.