News Organizations increasing concerns on Social Media Liability
News reporters are experiencing an increasing number of threats on social media leading the discussion about having Social Media Insurance as safety support for employees.
The case of the reporter Emily Wilder who was recently fired from the Associated Press (AP) has brought up questions about social media liability for news organizations.
The 22-year-old news associate in Arizona was dismissed for a tweet that AP argued “violated AP’s News Values and Principles,” according to CNN Business. The tweets were not disclosed and AP claims that it contains individual opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that went against the company policy of offering individual thoughts on controversial issues.
Groups against her started threat campaigns and sent violent messages on Twitter while defenders argue that the news organization acted too fast and severely because of outside pressure.
In addition to the dismissal, what has most concerned the journalistic community are the threats she has received online. This is not the first time that this has happened to a reporter. With increasing political tension and reporting on controversial issues, reporters are experiencing concerning threats online.
This case brings the discussion not only to the privacy of reporter’s comments on social media but also on how organizations like the Associated Press can protect their employees from online harassment and threats instead of firing them.
In a study conducted by UNESCO and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), 1200 respondents from around the world were asked about online violence against women journalists. Some results from the study included:
- 73% of women journalists in the study have experienced online violence in their work. This includes threats of physical and sexual violence, along with digital security attacks.
- 20% of women journalists in the study have been abused/attacked offline because of online violence.
These numbers are shocking and leave many wondering about what organizations are doing to protect their employees, especially their female ones, from online violence.
The takeaway from this current scenario is the necessity for employers to ask and answer three important questions:
Are Employers Responsible for Employee Safety Online?
There are no formal laws or regulations stipulating that employers are responsible for employee online safety. Although ensuring online safety is not required for employers, they should take action to make sure employees are not experiencing harassment or threats online because of their job.
What liability do employers have for employees on social media and how can they help?
Once the need for this online insurance has been determined, figuring out the type of liability for employees and a protection system is essential for safe and complete coverage. There are many approaches employers can go about to ensure that employees feel safe on social media. The first, and most proactive, approach is working with law enforcement when employees are facing threats. If an employee faces a threat online because of a job-related activity, the employer needs to get law enforcement involved immediately.
How can Employers ensure Safety on social media?
Another way to make sure employees are safe is to make sure there is insurance coverage in place to cover any losses. Many business insurance policies include Personal and Advertising Injury Coverage, which can be referred to as Social Media Liability. This coverage protects employees from libel, slander, invasion of privacy, and derogatory comments.
Social Media coverage is important because it helps pay for litigation and settlement when an employee is accused of this behavior online. Also, because it protects employees who work online.
In conclusion, while employers are not responsible for everything their employees say or do on social media, it is important that they help protect them when job-related activities result in threats or harassment. We are going to see more cases of social media liability come up in the future, so to stay on top of the situation, employers need to make sure they have a plan in place with the right insurance coverage to protect employees.
To learn more about business insurance, check out our SmartCompliance blog.