A real estate professional recently was sued for a Fair Housing Act violation over a listing posted on his website, even though he was not the listing agent and did not post the content himself.
The information appeared on his website through an IDX feed, which is a real estate search site that allows the public to search MLS properties in a certain area. The post stated that the community was an adult only community with “no children over 16”.
Eventually he was dismissed from the lawsuit when the plaintiff found out he was not the listing agent, but the fact remains that because his site was used to post content by another individual, he was dragged into the lawsuit.
What does this have to do with community associations? Two words: Social Media. Although I’m a fan of using social media to build community and increase your neighborhood reach, social media could get you into trouble if you’re not careful.
Remember that social media is social. There’s an element of conversation to it – it’s not static like a website. You write something, they write something back, you reply, and so on. Social media is suddenly social product. What if that product is not something you necessarily support? What if that product turns out to be false? Discriminatory? Libelous? What if the initial post was harmless but the end product exposes you to liability?
While there is some federal protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, this only extends protection for information posted by 3rd parties, and not necessarily the association if it posts the information itself.
If you’re going to engage in social media, make sure to fully understand the benefits it brings, the risks associated, and how to proactively address those risks.
Don’t miss our class on Technology Advances being taught at the CAI Spring Showcase. We’ll be discussing social media and the risks and benefits associated with it.