Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have made communication faster, cost effective, and convenient when compared to physical mailings. However, issues can arise if an Association utilizes social media to communicate Association information and the Board has not taken proactive measures to develop a written communication policy.

Here are five key factors that must be considered in an Association’s social media policy.

  1. Pick a social media platform/s that makes sense for your community’s needs

Your Association doesn’t need a social media account for each platform. Consider the Association’s needs, the resources available to manage the account/s, and how members engage with social media.

Selecting dedicated social media platform/s can also make it easier to spot fake or copycat accounts. For example, an unhappy owner could create a YouTube account with a name and/or design similar to the Association’s legitimate account. If the Association has an official YouTube account, the Board can take appropriate action to prevent this fake account from spreading inaccurate information to members. Moreover, homeowners will be better able to spot fake or copycat accounts for themselves with a dedicated, known social media platform.

  1. Determine who can view the Association’s social media pages

The Board should specify who has access to the Association’s social media channels and if they should be set as closed or private pages. Additionally, users should review rules that specify permissible and prohibited content.

  1. Determine who can use the Association’s social media accounts

Assign a Board member/s to:

  • Administer posting information,
  • Approve/deny posts,
  • Manage comments,
  • Respond to messages, and
  • Remove prohibited content.

Content creator and editor roles can be assigned to different Board members to maintain accountability and allow for different perspectives.

  1. Determine the types of permissible content

Social media can quickly and conveniently disseminate Association communication, including: meeting dates, trash can removal reminders, and community event headlines. The Board can also include direct links to frequently requested Association items such as community bylaws, property improvement request forms, and the Association’s assessment payment website.

  1. Determine the types of prohibited content

The Association’s social media policy should delineate clear restrictions regarding social media use. Examples of prohibited content should include, but are not limited to:

  • Confidential Association business,
  • Personal or privileged information (ex. Social Security numbers, dates of birth)
  • Neighborhood gossip ,
  • Opinions,
  • Criticism,
  • Political bias,
  • Vendor contracts/negotiations,
  • Copyright/trademark infringement (ex. images used without permission), and
  • Pictures of children without parental consent.

 

With the rise of social media use by Associations, Board members should be cautious and restricted in the information they choose to disseminate via social media. Courts generally find that information posted on an online forum can be utilized in litigation. Accordingly, Board members should expect that communication shared on social media will be available in the event an owner initiates legal action against the Association.

It is imperative that the Association proactively work with their legal counsel to draft a social media policy that provides guidance and protects the Board from significant legal consequences including libel, slander, privacy, and harassment. Any of these can lead to issues can have repercussions involving liability and/or litigation.

If your Association has questions regarding your current social media policy or is interested in adopting a policy, do not hesitate to contact our law firm. Since 1983, KSN has been a legal resource for condominium, homeowner, and townhome Associations throughout the Chicagoland area. We have multiple offices including downtown Chicago, Mundelein, and Naperville. Please call 855-537-0500 or visit www.ksnlaw.com.

This article is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By reading this article you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the article author. This article should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. © 2019 Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit, A Professional Corporation.