The $80,000 Facebook Post

The $80,000 Facebook Post

Your mom taught you to say nothing at all if you can't say something nice. And you're a responsible adult. So you’ll never post anything negative about anyone on social media.

Still, you’re at risk of being sued for defamation. How?

Simple, if you have a teenager.

We all know that teenagers don't always consider the implications of their actions.

Consider the teen who told her friends on Facebook that her father had won a settlement against his former employer. She even bragged that it was being used to pay for her family’s summer trip to Europe.

She didn’t know that her dad’s settlement agreement included a confidentiality clause. The company saw the posting, and the dad was forced to return the money, all $80,000 of it.

Here's a much worse case: Someone posted nasty comments about a Texas couple on a web site, thinking their comments were anonymous. But there's nothing truly anonymous on the Internet. The irate couple traced the comments, found the computer from which the comments were posted, sued the owners of that computer – and won $14 million from a jury.

So what you need to do is simple. Talk with all your family members about what could happen if they even inadvertently breach confidentiality or commit an act of defamation. The guidelines are straightforward: Don't post anything, either written or visual, that in any way hurts peers, members of the family, or the family's way of making a living. No embarrassing images or insults. Don't curse.

And don't make public what should, frankly, be kept private within the family.