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Personal Risk Matters

Social Media’s Hidden Liability Risks

Posted by Raymond Piacentini Thursday, April 23, 2020

Now more than ever, many of us are relying on technology to stay connected with the outside world as we practice social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social media is quickly replacing face-to-face interaction with family, friends, and acquaintances of all generations.

Many parents and their children are at home working remotely or completing schoolwork online, visiting popular social media websites throughout the day and at night to connect with friends and catch up on newsfeeds. While social media does have its benefits, it also brings individuals and families additional risks that are elevated at this time of increased online activity.

The Dark Side of the Web

Using social media to stay connected and informed seems innocent enough, but it’s important to keep in mind that social media has become a liability landmine. Teens, and even pre-teens, are often quick to judge and let the world know about it via social media, yet they lack the real-world knowledge of their post’s potential ramifications. Despite any individual privacy settings — or the premise from some apps that the post will “disappear” after a certain amount of time — most social platform service agreements indicate that personal information will be shared with others; and, any content submitted is public by default. Questionable photos and derogatory words not only put a child’s personal character at risk, but also could potentially impact their parents’ reputation, relationship to clients, business activity, board affiliations, and more.

Mental anguish from bullying, inappropriate exchange of pictures, defamation and slander, can all be reasons for someone to file a lawsuit against an individual or family. Cyberbullying is one of the more common issues we hear about today. According to techjury.net, 34% of teens have been a victim of bullying through technology. Bullying is not just happening on smartphones social media, there are cases that stem from online gaming platforms as well. Stopbullying.gov reports that 72% of teens participate in online gaming.

Protecting Your Family

Help your children understand these social media risks and teach them to be smart about what they say and post online. The basic precautionary measures of parental engagement and communication are the most valuable tools to protect your children and yourself.

Further, arranging proper umbrella or excess liability insurance coverage can help your family avoid significant financial loss due to a potential misstep for many risks.

To learn more about liability exposures related to social media and to ensure you have the proper insurance protection in place, contact a MMA PCS Personal Risk Advisor.

Raymond Piacentini

Northeast Sales Leader, Marsh McLennan Agency Private Client Services