We take care to punctuate. But social media users, paying scant attention to apostrophes, commas, upper-lower cases et al, treat punctuation like #itsdirt. And as Australian real estate agent Anthony Zadravic found out, being careless on such matters can cost you. In a Facebook post last October, Zadravic had posted on another real estate agent’s wall, accusing him of ‘selling multi million $ (sic) homes in Pearl Beach but can’t pay his employees superannuation’. But as the judge hearing the defamation charge against him last week observed, to not pay one employee’s pension may be seen as ‘unfortunate’. But to fail to pay the pension of some or all employees, as his post suggested, ‘looks deliberate’.
So, to accuse someone of this was grave, and not worthy of being dismissed as Zadravic wanted. Because he, apparently, posted his comment late at night, without checking that instead of ‘his employee’s superannuation’ – referring to only his own pension being denied – he missed the apostrophe. True, even in the plural, ’employees’ would need an apostrophe, after the ‘s’. But, as the judge noted, what was perceived by others before the message was deleted 12 hours after being created was damaging. So, remember to eat your greens, dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Neglecting punctuation – its not risky, it’s risky.