The best of us have done it. The worst of us keep doing it. More and more people are being fired over it, including celebrities and sports stars.

‘It’, of course, is writing something really careless on Twitter or Facebook.

Whatever the reason, once it’s out there the damage is done. No matter how fast you are to delete, somebody always sees it. And the more people you connect with, the further the message spreads and the worse the end result. Social media brings tremendous benefits but those gains also come with an element of risk, for individuals and especially brands.

Thankfully, where there’s risk, there’s insurance. And it could be coming soon to Twitter.

Kiln Group, an underwriter at Lloyds of London who amongst other high-risk clients provides specialist insurance services for foreign correspondents, TV personalities and film crews operating inside war zones, have revealed that brokers in Canada are closely watching trends in social media and are beginning to develop policies that will provide coverage in the event of a mis-post.

“We’re sort of feeling our way through, trying to work [it] out,” says Malcolm Randles, who issues cyber insurance policies for Kiln. “It’s very new in Canada. Brokers have caught on to what their colleagues are doing in the U.S. and have been very strong in promoting this class of business.”

Social media tools have been rapidly adopted by brands of all sizes over the past few years and this boon will inevitably be accompanied by an exponentially-rising number of lawsuits and legal battles, likely tied to intellectual property, defamation and privacy breaches. That next mis-tweet could end up costing you big.

Part of the problem is that many organisations don’t have clear, written guidelines for the use of social media by employees, both at work and at home, which can lead to ‘big fat cow’ syndrome.

“‘My boss is a big fat cow,’ is a very common tweet,” says Eric Dolden, a lawyer with Vancouver-based Dolden Wallace Folick LLP. “But people often stupidly then say where they work and who their boss is in the tweet. We’ve seen people, in their personal capacities… the ‘big-fat-cow boss’ bringing a lawsuit against the individual. And we’ve also seen the company have to take action because, from a reputational point of view, their brand is now suddenly gone viral, negatively.”

Dolden says that demand for social media insurance is mostly coming from large companies, who might pay $100,000 for a $10-million policy that protects them against data loss and liability. Smaller companies would pay less, and the policies could soon become must-haves for celebrities and other power-users.

“I think eventually it’s going to come for individuals,” Dolden said. “It’s probably about five years out.”

The specifics on how and why this insurance would pay out are unclear. But with Twitter making very public examples of high-profile users like Courtney Love, Kenneth Cole and Gilbert Gottfried in the past few months alone, those monthly premiums probably can’t arrive soon enough.

(Source: CityNews Toronto.)