Today, community associations (hopefully) understand the need to relay, perhaps even to over-communicate, all important information to their owners. To that end, more associations made the jump into the cyber world with their own Facebook and Twitter pages. Before going all in, though, associations should consider adopting a “social media policy.” Here are some items to consider before putting together such a policy:
1. How does the association wish to use Facebook and/or Twitter?
● Is the association looking to provide ‘one-way’ information, and not allow owners/fans/friends to post and comment?
● Does the association plan to use sites to promote discussion, interaction and sharing of ideas and concepts, allowing others to post and comment?
2. Regardless of the purpose of the association’s social media presence, the Board should decide who, on behalf of the association, will be authorized to make posts and updates. This is so the communication from the association can be better controlled and monitored.
3. Will the social media platform be open for anyone to “friend and follow?’ Or, will it be permissible for community association members only?
4. If the platforms will be used to promote discussions and people will have the permissions to post, the following must be considered by the Board when formulating the social media policy:
● Will posts containing negative and/or disparaging comments about the association be allowed (remember, too, if available for all to see, this could affect sales and potentially, property values)?
● If not, who is going to monitor comments and posts? What is the criteria to be used to determine “allowable” posts and comments?
5. In addition to everything previously mentioned, there are a few liability concerns which must be considered:
● If the association has a policy stating it will remove negative posts, and if the said policy isn’t clear with regards to criteria for removing posts, the association could face the risk of a claim based on discrimination (if it seems one particular person’s or group of people’s posts are removed, while others are not).
● In relation to removing posts, if somebody posts a defamatory comment or thread concerning another, and the association doesn’t remove said post, one may argue that the association has taken on not only the opinion, but also the liability for the content of the defamatory post.
● Determine if your association’s insurance covers claims of discrimination or defamation related to posts on the association’s social media platform account (or website message board).