Twitter Trial Highlights Social Media Risks

Be careful what you say online.

A British court earlier this week awarded libel damages of  £90,000 ($140,000) to former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns as a result of a tweet posted about him in 2010.

The 24-word tweet, by former Indian Premier League head Lalit Modi, alleged that Cairns had been involved in match-fixing.

According to an Associated Press report, the ruling from London’s High Court determined that Modi “singularly failed† to provide any reliable evidence that Cairns was involved in match-fixing.

Modi was also ordered to pay  £400,000 ($635,000) in costs to Cairns’ solicitors within 28 days.

This isn’t the first time a tweet has turned litigious.

In May 2011, singer Courtney Love was sued for alleged defamation on Twitter by former lawyers who had represented her in 2008 in an effort to recover money allegedly stolen from the estate of her late husband, Kurt Cobain.

And in March 2011, Love agreed to pay $430,000 plus interest, to settle a landmark Twitter defamation lawsuit brought in March 2009 by her former designer over comments Love made on her Twitter and MySpace accounts.

A recent I.I.I. paper co-authored by myself and I.I.I. president Dr. Robert Hartwig, notes that the growing use of social media in everyday life is giving rise to a range of evolving liabilities.

The good news is that insurance is available to help both individuals and companies better manage and reduce their potential financial losses from social media and cyber risks in future.

Check out a post on ZDNet blog Social Business for more on recent Twitter defamation cases.

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