Private social media group sites such as your city's Rants & Raves page might appear to be a safe place to air your opinions and comments regarding an individual or business in the community, but do understand that the words you choose could come back to haunt you, particularly if you cannot prove your communication to others is factual.

Social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter are a great way to inform other area citizens about important things happening around town. Some people use these platforms within the community to share event details, incidents of crime, and other communications based either on opinion or fact. Opinion and fact are the two keywords there.

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Let me use businesses as an example when it comes to posting comments on community private group pages. I read a lot of posts throughout the week from Magic Valley residents claiming they've been done wrong by local businesses.

I recently came across a local social thread that involved an area businessman that was allegedly scamming members of southern Idaho. This claim might be based on facts, but you're going to have to prove it if the individual mentioned locates the post and the verbiage used is in any way defamatory or contains language that presents the business in a poor light. You are entitled to your opinion, but making claims that cannot be proved true in a court of law can get you into trouble.

I think there's a misunderstanding by many that what is said in these private groups, which are very easy to join by the way, is protected and therefore bulletproof. Just be careful when it comes to these platforms, and remember there's a difference between an opinion and a statement that can be tested for validity in a court of law.

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