In the first 6 months of this year (2014) more legal cases relating to social media disputes have been filed than the whole of last year.
Some relating to personal attacks but the majority of cases involve Business’s defending their reputation. If the current increase continues almost half of all court cases will be social media related in just 5 years.
For the first time in our history the public can publish information that has a potential readership of millions. Until recently Newspapers have had the monopoly over written information distribution and have had to follow strict guidelines. (although you wouldn’t have thought so going by recent news stories)
We are now seeing the general public falling foul of the very same laws that newspapers must adhere to. What the public must be aware of is that platforms such as facebook and twitter are regarded as “public” unless posted in a private message.
social media business disputes
From the publics point of view airing their views on a business is now becoming a minefield. We have all done it but as social media grows we are having to be more responsible for what we post.
For example making posts in groups paged or on your own wall like ““Don’t used ABC Company i did and they ripped me off” or “Just used ABC Company they’re crap” is no different to printing these statements on the front page of your local newspaper and a company has as much justification for taking you you court.
Companies are now fighting back against such posts and are successfully prosecuting users on an almost daily basis.
Resolving social media disputes
The general public have the right to air their opinions to their friends and rightly so so. After all a business thrives or fails off the back of its reputation. In many cases facebook users have unintentionally fallen foul of the law by what they perceive to be doing a good turn for their friends by warning them about shoddy service or a “cowboy company”
No business wants to take the general public to court but in some cases a business owner will feel they have little choice. With this being the case many business’ are increasingly opting for ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) like the service we provide, in an attempt to avoid taking legal action.
Alternative dispute Resolution service
We offer an ADR service to large and small business’ and organisations throughout the UK. In many cases when a business name is called into question on social media their main aim is damage limitation. No business intentionally offers a bad service but from time to time “hic ups” do occur with even the best business’
ADR for business and public
Our service is provided to offer help to business’ and the public resolve disputes that arise from information published online that is deemed to be in breach of the law. We remain impartial throughout the entire process. Our aim is to find a resolution that both parties are happy with thus avoiding the need for legal action.
We can not and do not have the powers to demand a person remove offending posts even if they fall foul of the law.
Nor do we have the powers to threaten legal action.
ADR and the general public
When a business contacts us to mediate in a dispute we first asses whether the posts in question are deemed unacceptable or falls foul of the law*
We then contact the “poster” to offer information regarding the business’ dispute, reasons for objection and requests removal or amendment. We also offer some guidance and advice on where the “poster” can find all the relevant information regarding their legal responsibilities and the legal implications when posting on public platforms. In most cases the “poster” is grateful for the information and the situation is resolved amicably.
* This assessment is for our guidance only.