The Internet is a fascinating place that is opening up new forms of interaction, activities, and organization of information. Social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace are creating revolutionary ways to interact with people all over the world. Websites such as Amazon, Yelp, and Angie's List allow people to post online reviews of businesses of all types.
These undertakings, however, have a dangerous element. Blogs and postings of a negative nature (even if they are true) can result in unpleasant and costly lawsuits against the writer. Freedom of speech does not mean you can say anything you want anywhere; it also implies responsibility. So consider the following before posting or blogging negative comments on the Internet.
1. Check your facts carefully and thoroughly document your sources. Truth is a complete defense in a libel case, although you still may run into expensive legal bills defending yourself. If you find that your facts are incorrect, remove the inaccurate content and consider issuing a correction or retraction.
Don't Stretch the Truth
2. If you purchase a product online & have a bad experience with the seller, it might be wise not to post a negative comment or rating on the website. If you do post an adverse comment, be sure that it is objectively written, based on solid facts concerning your own experience, and not written in an inflammatory manner.
3. If you are a blog master and someone is posting false and incendiary statements on your site, remember that you may be held liable for these remarks since you are the "publisher." Check out The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, whose mission is to safeguard the rights of those who use digital media and to provide legal guides to bloggers both large and small. It also offers helpful ideas to those bloggers and online posters to avoid libel suits.
4. If your blog is a money-maker, look into business liability coverage, as most homeowners’ policies contains numerous business-related exclusions and restrictions. If you operate a small home-based business in conjunction with your blog or online business, consider requesting that a home-based business endorsement be added to your homeowner’s policy. Also be very aware that you may need a “hi-tech” form of insurance protection that can only be found in business specialty insurance markets; it all depends upon what you are doing. Call Stan at ext 15 if you are unsure as to your lawsuit exposures.
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