MiWay insurance has distanced itself from an email screenshot in which black clients are referred to as 'baboons'. In the fake email, an official purportedly reminds a colleague about a decision not to take 90% of the claims from black clients.
Social media expert Emma Sadleir talks to Mandy Wiener about the incident on The Midday Report.
It was absolutely amazing just how much traction this got. When I tweeted last night that this was so obviously fake, I got a lot of hate from everybody out there saying, how can you say it's fake, it's clearly real until it's been proved that it's not real.— Emma Sadleir, social media expert
She says it was so obviously fake with the 'author' of the email was not in management, was not even a claims assessor, the dates were incorrect, the fonts were wrong and more.
But still, the amount of harm that was done and the traction of people being called upon to cancel their MiWay policies on the basis that it's a racist company is extraordinary.— Emma Sadleir, social media expert
She wonders how many people will cancel their policies.
It's believed the client was unhappy because MiWay did not pay his claim and he used an old email from an insurance official to fabricate the racist email.
Sadleir says MiWay as a company has a reputation, and can sue for defamation "which is loss of reputation".
Because this was motivated by malice, in most instances you can also sue to recover legal costs, money that's lost as a result of the defamation campaign, related PR costs...— Emma Sadleir, social media expert
Also notable is the identification of a real person in the email, who works at MiWay, she adds. The woman's name and even physical address were widely shared on social media. This could result in infringement of privacy claim and one of crimen injuria.
I think the main reason people turn to the internet for these revenge campaigns is because people think they can genuinely be anonymous.— Emma Sadleir, social media expert
And staying anonymous is very difficult, she concludes.
Sadleir also discusses a recent phone scam doing the rounds.
Take a listen to the interview below: