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Social media sites have taken over our lives. Social media has the power to unify voices, publicize important issues and inspire the world but at the same time, it comes with disciplinary, legal and reputational consequences.

Emma Sadleir, Social Media Law Expert, once said digital content is dangerous content. “Even though there are privacy settings, there is no privacy because this is a public platform. Once it is out there, it is out there.”

Social media and the validity of claims 

“People have been dismissed as a result of comments made on social media, for example, if a claim form stated the policyholder was in a particular area and the social media shows this not to be true, it can be challenged by the insurer in investigating the claim,” says Danny Joffe, Senior Legal Advisor at Hollard Insures.

“Social media has become another medium through which information is disseminated or carried and like any other publication, can be useful in validating claims. The rule is to use credible information sourced legitimately, and that includes information as may be sourced from social media networks. This can support or disprove validity of claims,” says Fanus Coetzee, Head of Claims at Santam.

“By way of illustration only, if X says he was robbed of a particular item, and yet subsequent to the date of the alleged loss, X posts pictures taken a date post the alleged loss, suggesting the alleged stolen item was in X’s possession, this will invite enquiries into the correctness of the representations made by the client in his claim. In short, social media can be instrumental in validating the accuracy of representations, be it in support of a claim or against such claim,” continues Coetzee.

Do you have the right to that info?

“In terms of law once someone posts a message or photo on social media that can be accessed legitimately on the internet it is public record and, in my view, can be used by insurers or any other investigators as a means of finding out information as to the whereabouts or views of someone,” says Joffe.

“Anyone has the right to access a social media page once it is put on a public forum such as Facebook or Twitter. One cannot hack into a private Facebook page or one’s email, but the public forums can always be used to gain access to information or photographs. One needs to be wary what one puts into the public domain including Twitter and Facebook,” continues Joffe.

“An individuals’ privacy settings determine what is visible publicly on social media and insurers cannot make use of illegitimate means to obtain access to social media posts, only within legal means. Any information that is protected by law is not accessed,” emphasises Coetzee.

Article by Myra Knoesen on 25/9/2018 in the FA News

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