With the rapid growth in the popularity and use of social media, it’s also important for employers to realize that the costs can be steep if employees make defamatory – or otherwise negative statements – regarding your brand.
When it comes to defamation via social media, “there is a big risk,” says Michael Smith, a partner in the Toronto office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG). “Social media is becoming a business imperative, so from the perspective of risk management, I would counsel businesses that you have to have a pretty narrow group that has access to that account. You should have a level of review – a second set of eyes on it before it goes out.”
And there is another looming aspect to social media — what staff is saying online. If employees are using their company’s property (a computer or mobile device, for example) to make defamatory statements, the employer can be held liable as having assisted “publish” those remarks.
“I haven’t seen a case like that go to trial or judgment yet,” says Michael. “But in Ontario and most jurisdictions in North America, most cases settle without going through a full trial. I suspect and have seen anecdotal evidence to suggest that dozens of these cases are being made right now.”