Monday, May 23, 2022

Social Media Do’s and Don’ts: Why You Should Care What You Share

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Today, people post almost everything on social media. What many don’t realize is that they give up so much personal information on social media, and the consequences could be bad.

What you text, post, and tag on social media could affect your car and home insurance. Additionally, what you say on Facebook or Twitter about your employer or coworkers could get you fired. Even more troubling, the personal information you leave online can expose you to identity theft.

Let’s go over some of the do’s and don’ts of social media content, and we’ll share top tips on ways to keep your social media accounts safe.

Social Media and Insurance

You may be wondering how social media can affect insurance. But it’s true. There are a few different ways that what you post on social media can affect your insurance policies.

How does social media affect home insurance?

You may not realize it, but there is a direct relationship between home insurance and social media. The most common issue relates to home invasion and burglary claims.

Social Media and Insurance
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You may love sharing your vacation photos or restaurant check-ins with friends and family through social media, but criminals might use that information. It signals to criminals that you’re away and it’s a good time to break into your home.

Insurance companies could reject a home theft claim if the homeowners disclosed their whereabouts away from home on social media. Their basis for doing so could be in the insurance contract.

Policy contracts typically have boilerplate clauses that require policyholders to use reasonable care in keeping their property safe and secure. Some insurers may argue that the social media posts of homeowners away from the home are a breach of the policyholder’s agreement to use reasonable care and deny claims on the basis of a breach of the policy.

In addition to home invasion, insurers can deny claims for lost, damaged, or stolen property. If photos of the purported lost or stolen property are posted in the homeowner’s possession and in good condition after the claim was filed, the claim won’t be covered.

For example, if you make a claim that your diamond wedding ring was stolen, but you post a current photo with you wearing the ring, the insurance company could deny reimbursement. Worse, they could pursue you for fraud, which could result in increased premiums, denial of coverage, policy cancellation, and even civil and criminal penalties.

How does social media affect car insurance?

You might not think that social media can affect car insurance, but what you post can adversely affect your relationship with your insurers in two ways.

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First, your posts project an image that can affect the way insurers rate your risk level. Second, they can be used as evidence that might determine whether your claims are approved or denied.

Here are some clear examples of social media activity that could negatively affect your car insurance:

  • Texting while driving – Text messages typically have date and time stamps. Screenshots of texts at or around the time of an auto accident can be used to show you were the driver at fault.
  • Taking selfies while driving – Posting pictures while driving could result in having your policy non-renewed based on the implication that you are a distracted driver.
Social Media and Insurance
  • Photos that contradict claims – If you upload photos of your pristine car but reported auto damage, the photo can be used as evidence to deny your claim. Likewise, if personal injuries are part of an accident claim, but your social media account shows you engaging in activities that you wouldn’t be able to do if you had sustained injuries, your medical claims will likely be denied.
  • Relationship status updates – Most insurance companies and some states require both spouses to be named on an automobile policy. If you applied as a single person but your social media accounts show your relationship status as married, your policy could be canceled for failing to accurately provide truthful information.

As mentioned for home insurance, not only could these types of posts affect your policy and claims, but they can also get you into hot water for committing insurance fraud. Consider using a texting and driving application to keep your eyes and hands-free and also avoid posting too much personal information on social media.

Social Media and Employment

Most employers have social media policies as part of their employee handbooks and workplace policies. Because there are situations where an employee can be fired for what they say and do outside of the workplace and work hours, all employees should be very cautious about what they post on social media. 

Do employers have social media policies?

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Yes, since the advent of social media, most employers have included social networking protocols and policies as part of their workplace rules.

Standard social media policies restrict social networking on company time. They also forbid the posting of confidential and private company information. Almost all policies will prohibit the employee from disparaging or posting negative things about the company online. 

Can you be fired for social media posts?

Violating an employer’s social media policies is serious and can lead to disciplinary action, including termination of employment.

Most states are at-will employment states, meaning that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason so long as it is not a discriminatory or wrongful firing. Terminating someone’s employment for violating the company’s social media policy most likely will not be considered an unlawful termination. 

What kind of social media posts can get you fired?

Negative or disparaging posts about the company or other coworkers can be the basis for terminating an employee. Posting confidential, private, or privileged information like research and development projects, sales and financial data, and medical records or information would also be legitimate grounds for firing.

Your employer may even have grounds to fire you because of posts on hot-button issues. In at-will employment, there is no protection against discrimination based on political views. Also, there is no right to free speech in employment if a condition of your job is not to disparage the company or other employees.

Social Media and Identity Theft

Social media is a treasure trove of information for criminals. Many people don’t realize that they are exposing themselves to identity theft by posting personal information to the general public online. 

Criminals not only have access to your name and photo, if you don’t maintain strong privacy settings, they will also be able to see where you live, how old you are, if you’re married and have kids, and what you do for a living. Social media accounts often display where you went to high school and so much other personal information that can be used to steal your identity.

If you haven’t already taken steps to protect your online information, here are two key things to do to guard against social media identity theft.

1. Tighten Your Privacy Settings

Identity thieves scour lots of information from public online accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. Check your privacy settings across all social media platforms to make sure they are what you expect them to be. 

Make your posts private and limit access to your information to family, friends, and trusted connections.

2. Delete Personal Information

People upload way too much personal information when setting up their social media accounts. There is no need to have your birthdate, relationship status, or location displayed for public consumption. Likewise, you should never disclose where you were born, where you work, and where you live now.

3. Google Yourself

It’s important to periodically search your name on social media accounts for fake profiles using your information. If you find a fake profile, report it to the social media platform right away. Look for links to a legal page or to report improper activity.

4. Take a Social Media Break

Detoxing from social media is a great way to improve your mental and physical well-being. It also makes you less vulnerable to identity theft because the less you post, the less there is to see and steal. Also, you are less likely to show up on feeds if you haven’t been active.

The bottom line is, yes, social media is fun and here to stay, but if it isn’t used responsibly, it could negatively affect your insurance, employment, and identity. Use these tips to make sure you’re safe online.

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