A New Frontier
I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that most people in the insurance industry haven’t been keeping up with Courtney Love. If I’m right, I’m here to tell you that you should start. Why? Because the musician just won the first trial in the United States dealing with allegations of defamation on Twitter.
Love was sued by her former lawyer, Rhonda Holmes, for a June 2010 tweet in which Love stated Holmes was “bought off.” Love composed the tweet after Holmes refused to bring a fraud suit against the managers of the estate of her late husband, Kurt Cobain. Holmes’ suit asked for $8 million in compensation, arguing that the tweet damaged her reputation.
The jury, however, didn’t agree, deciding that Holmes hadn’t made a sufficient case for injury.
Many observers thought this lawsuit could set the standard for libel cases in the social media age, and determine how damages would be assessed when false or malicious statements are posted on social networks.
But we may see a few billion tweets and another gazillion Facebook updates (complete with artistic snapshots of what your friends are eating this very minute) before we learn what the standard should be (the law moves far more slowly than your average upload, after all). One thing is certain, though—as the number of social media users increases and as social media continues to evolve, we’ll see more cases like Love’s. We’ll also see more and more people looking for insurance solutions to help manage this risk. And if they’re not, they should be.
In this month’s issue, brokers and insurers discuss the many social media exposures that users face and the work that still needs to be done to educate clients on this new risk frontier. We hope brokers, who are increasingly utilizing social networks themselves, can use the information from this article to spark conversations with clients both big and small about how their risk environments are evolving.
Two years ago, would a broker have had to provide clients with advice on how to properly manage a corporate Instagram account? Probably not. But as the risks change, technologies develop and new laws are written, brokers must stay informed to provide their clients with the best possible service. As one broker told me, when it comes to managing social media risks, everyone is on a learning curve. Some may be further along than others, but everyone must keep moving forward. Because there’s certainly no turning back.