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Irwin Law
Irwin Law, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 6847
Experience:  Lawyer & Real Estate Broker, 30+ years, foreclosure, land contracts, inheritance, probate.
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I help run a group on social media. To help facilitate

Customer Question

I help run a group on social media. To help facilitate social gatherings, we created a sub group specifically geared toward that, where members can post their own events. As we set up guidelines, moderators are split on how to formulate them. Underage drinking is a concern. Half strongly believe we must state that members must agree, before posting an event on the forum, to adhere to all state laws. They feel it is necessarily to prevent any liability to the moderators running the group. The other half do not want to police member events, feel that it will be off-putting to the members if they tell them what they can and cannot do in their own homes, and that a disclaimer stating that the group does not condone illegal activities and and is not responsible for member events is enough. My question is, is a hard line necessary, or is a disclaimer enough? Can we be held liable for what members choose to do in their own homes, just because they set up the event through our forum? (Of course if we knew illegal activities were the intent, we would remove the post from the forum.) Social Host Liability and the RICO act were both cited by one side, other side does not see how they apply.
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 3 months ago.

Are you saying that people have parties or meetings in their homes and invite the general public? What am I missing here?

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
I am an admin of a nanny group. Some of our nannies are under 21. (but at least 18) We created a sub group specifically to let our members create events so the events do not get lost in all of the other posts throughout the day. It is a closed group where nannies can post events like going out to the movies or karaoke or for having a bbq or party in their own home and invite anyone else in the group to come. We have some concerns about the possibility of nannies not yet 21 possibly being offered or taking alcohol (such as being handed a wine cooler at a bbq.) Half the moderators feel we need to take a strong stance and say that if you are going to post an event, you must agree that you will follow all state laws. If not, maybe we will be liable for the illegal consumption because the gathering was facilitated through our forum. The other half feel this wording is too abrasive and the nannies will feel "nannied" by a command about what they MUST do in their own home and that simply having a disclaimer that we do not condone illegal activities and are not responsible for member events is enough. Is it enough?
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 3 months ago.

No disclaimer is ever enough. If someone wishes to sue you, even for an outlandish claim like the innocuous activity which you describe, they can do so. Liability for anything, almost always requires an active participation in the event that caused the harm. For example: the city bus company delivers a patron to a bar where he is injured by another patron. There is no liability on the part of the bus company for delivering him there. I cannot see how there can be any liability based upon the passive activity that you have described. A general overall disclaimer of any liability for events occurring at a member event should be sufficient, even though it's not guaranteed to be effective.

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Customer: replied 3 months ago.
I think that I need some clarification now about the meaning of participation. Is providing the forum to make the event participation? And if a moderator from the group was present at the party as a guest, even though they did not witness any illegal activities, is her very presence considered participation?
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Nevermind. I don't know if this is going to charge me more for the clarification. :-(
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 3 months ago.

I am not that familiar with interaction through social media, so I will opt out and open up the question to see if someone else who may be able to assist you.