Social Media Mistakes are not exclusive to what you may say on Facebook or Twitter – they impact everything you say in your blog, email, and all forms of digital content.
Most entrepreneurs and bloggers know their industry inside and out. But when it comes to how the law applies to their online marketing? Not so much.
The good news: you don’t have to be a legal whiz to know what online marketing mistakes can land your business in trouble.
Social Media Mistakes That Could Get You Sued
But what exactly are the not so popular social media mistakes that could land you in court? Here are a few of them:
1. Public disclosure of private facts
Everybody has the right to keep some information private, away from public consumption. Those information people want to keep to themselves must never be disclosed to the public. If you disclose them to the public you could be sued for invasion of privacy.
For instance, tweeting someone else’s medical records without his permission amounts to an invasion of privacy.
Another area where you could invade someone’s privacy is in the area where you want to give a public shout-out to your customer. You could be sued for invasion of privacy if go ahead to use the customer’s name or image in the post without first obtaining permission from him/her.
Areas where one’s privacy can easily be invaded include disclosing sexual history, medical records, financial woes, employment background, etc.
Let’s take a typical scenario where somebody is to undergo an appendectomy operation and agrees that it should be filmed for educational purposes only. If you eventually go ahead to publish such film on social media without the consent of the patient, you have invaded his/her privacy. The person could sue you for such social media mistake.
2. False-light publicity
Another not so popular social media mistake that can land you in court is false-light publicity. This happens when you spread false or misleading information about somebody. It’s even worse if the information being spread is embarrassing or offensive to the person or his/her family.
Oftentimes on social media, someone starts a publication and you decide to retweet or share the post without confirming its authenticity.
If your retweeted or shared post gets to the knowledge of the affected person, he could sue you for spreading information that’s not true about him. The same could also apply to the person who originally started the post.
One funny practice on social media is that people post updates or advertorials using another person’s image without first obtaining permission from the image owner.
Some even use the images of celebrities as their profile pictures without permission. In some instances, the name of a celebrity is used as a profile name. This, often overlooked mistakes can land you in court.
An example to consider here is the case where the retired NBA star Tim Duncan sued a San Antonio real estate agent for the use of a personal image in an advertisement without obtaining his permission.
In 2015, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported that a web-based travel agent owned by Serpil Sevin was asked to pay Vincent Khoury Tylor, a panorama photographer based in Hawaii the sum of $24,000 for using his image work without first obtaining permission and without credit score or the payment of compensation.
Social media remains a very good place to promote your business, interact with friends, share updates and contribute to social discourse. But it’s also full of thorns and landmines. You need to tread with caution all the times.
In our quest to market our businesses and make money via the platform, we shouldn’t cross the boundaries and get into trouble which could eventually cost us more money than what we made.
It is, therefore, important to remain silent if what you say is likely to land you in a hot soup. Any spoken word can never be taken back again. No matter the damage control, you would have succeeded in spoiling a lot of things.