Celebs can now insure their social media in case they get sued

2016-11-16 13:00


Tsholo Photo
Tsholo Photo (Photo: Gallo)

Cape Town - Social media can get you into serious hot water. And recently some people have tweeted themselves into some major legal trouble.

Earlier this year, Penny Sparrow found herself in serious trouble when her Facebook post about black people on the beach went viral. Following the incident, Penny received terrible death threats, had to go "into hiding" and even lost her job.    

Even though everyone is exposed to risky social media activity, celebrities and politicians have large numbers of followers and their position in the public eye does increase their risk.

Often celebrities are perceived to have wealth behind them, which could also make them a target of a troll, trying to elicit an explosive and potentially damaging reaction.

Celebrities like AKA, Dineo Ranaka and Ntsiki Mazwai are all known for being very vocal on social media, and even though their comments might not be racially motivated, their actions could fall under the category: Defamation of character. 

To help protect people from being sued because of their social media posts, some insurance companies offer what is known as Social Media Liability insurance.

Head of Commercial Solutions at SHA told The Juice, "Many people seem to be unaware that the instantaneous, viral nature of platforms such as Twitter can expose them to large numbers of people, each with their own opinions and sensitivities. An inadvertent, thoughtless post or tweet can offend someone or invade their privacy and this can lead to litigation."

Social Media Liability insurance is basically a legal defence cover that gets added to your domestic insurance policy. If you are accused of defaming - damaging someone's good name - or of invading their privacy, they could institute legal action and try to sue for damages. The policy covers the legal defence costs (lawyers fees) and the damages if the case is unsuccessfully defended.

"We've steered clear of racial, cultural and religious slurs. Given the strong public opinion around such behaviour we felt it would be against public policy to provide insurance for those eventualities," Simon goes on to say. 

"We are also against cyber bullying and trolling so when a claim is made, a look at the user's timeline would establish if the post or tweet was an inadvertent 'once off' incident or if the user was deliberately attempting to stalk or victimise someone."

When asked what you would be covered for, Simon explains, "At the moment we have a limit of indemnity - a sum insured if you like - of R500,000 per annum. The cover would obviously give them access to attorneys that would provide solid defence and hopefully improve their chances of redeeming themselves after a thoughtless post."

Social Media Liability insurance is currently being rolled out through insurance brokers across the country so anyone who is interested should chat to their broker who will in turn talk to us at SHA.