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October 13 , 2009

If you have nothing nice to say don't say it online
18% of Canadians regret online comments

From celebrities to average folks, more people are finding themselves held accountable for their online comments. A recent TD Insurance poll found that a majority (67%) of Canadians have posted comments online and 18% regretted what they posted. Yet, more than a quarter (27%) believe they aren't legally accountable for their online comments.

Although the trend towards lawsuits against bloggers, message-board posters, social network users and yes, even Twitter users, is gaining momentum faster south of the border, it raises the question of how Canadians can protect themselves from their online words.

"Most people approach online commenting as though they were chatting in person, completely unaware of the risks they're taking," says Henry Blumenthal, Vice President and Chief Underwriter, TD Insurance. "A good rule of thumb when you're posting online is to ask yourself, how would I feel if this was printed in the newspaper with my name next to it?"

What's got Canadian tongues wagging online? More than half of respondents who post online do it to share their opinion about an experience (53%) or weigh in with their thoughts on an article or online entry (52%). Nearly a quarter (23%) vent frustration about a company, product or experience and a small percentage (5%) discuss their jobs or employers online. The old adage about Canadian politeness may hold true online, with only 6% admitting to gossiping.

Interestingly, men are more likely than women to have posted a comment in an online forum at 71% compared to 64%. Men are more likely than women to 'express an opinion about an online article or entry' (60% vs. 44%) and to 'correct information' (30% vs. 16%). Women are more likely to have posted to 'share their opinion about an experience' (58% vs. 47%).

Not surprisingly, younger Canadians (18 - 34 year olds) are more likely than their older counterparts to have posted online comments at 89%, but baby boomers are also joining in the conversation with 48% of 55+ year olds posting comments online.

When asked if they behave the same online as they do in person, the majority of Canadians (75%) said yes, but 9% did admit to being more opinionated behind the keyboard. Younger Canadians (18 - 34) are more likely to say they are more opinionated in person than online - 25% compared to 14% of 35 - 54 year olds and 7% of 55+ year olds. Yet, they're most likely to regret something they posted online (29% vs. 16% of 35 - 54 year olds and 5% of 55+ year olds).

"The way we communicate is constantly evolving and it's important for other areas of our lives to keep up, including our insurance policies," says Blumenthal. "Everyone's insurance needs are unique. Our experts will help you identify your personal needs so that you can have peace of mind knowing you're fully protected."

Most residential policies include liability insurance, but often the publication of libel, slander or defamatory comments is excluded from this coverage. TD Insurance Home and Auto offers an umbrella policy with home insurance that does provide coverage for the above. This added protection will help defend clients who have gotten themselves into unwanted situations as a result of a few strokes of the keyboard.

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