New NAR Code of Ethics Affect Social Media

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cancelIn case you haven’t heard, the National Association of Realtors® made a big change during their mid-year meeting last week. If any of you are bloggers or participate on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn…you’ve got to read this.

Apparently, Realtors are now responsible for not only what they say, but what others say/comment on their social media sites about other Realtors. Here is the wording from a Special Report on NAR’s site this week:

False and misleading statements. Standard of Practice 15-2 was amended and a new Standard of Practice was approved to strengthen members’ obligations to refrain from making false or misleading statements about competitors, including in use of social media tools.

The new amendment includes the duty to publish a clarification about, or to remove statements made by, others on electronic media the REALTOR® controls once the REALTOR® knows the statement is false or misleading. For example, if you’re publishing a blog and someone posts a false or misleading comment about a fellow REALTOR® on it, it’s your duty to remove the post or publish a clarification when you become aware of it.

Separately, the board approved a change to the NAR Bylaws, imposing the same duties on associations and MLSs as on members to not make false or misleading statements against competitors, competitors’ business practices, or competitors’ companies.

Keep in mind, a Standard of Practice is an interpretation of the actual Articles. See the wording of the new Code of Ethics. Still – Yikes!

Just when you thought the government had too much legislation, another ‘organization’ (don’t want to mislead by using any real names) feels they need to tell everyone else what they can and can’t say. Ever heard of the First Amendment?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I agree with a Realtor saying false or misleading comments that essentially misrepresents another Realtor. BUT, what about other people on your blog, Facebook or Twitter sites leaving comments that may be questionable?

Think about all of the friends you have on Facebook…what about all of the people you follow on Twitter. Do you really look at all of the comments?

In the past, I’ve talked to Metro Brokers’ agents about their online brand and interacting with friends/followers as well as making it a point to not ‘auto-follow’ people on social media sites. This new change to the NAR Code of Ethics really helps drive the point home.

A Few More Things to Consider:

  • It appears you should be okay as long as you remove the negative statement and/or post/publish a clarification when you become aware of it.
  • How do you know if a statement about a Realtor from another person is false or misleading? Are you going to need to play the role of investigator too?
  • Ron Hahn brought up a good point on his blog too. Where does the burden of proof lie? Are you required to prove the statement is true or must the other party prove the statement on your site is false?

Tips to Stay in NAR’s Good Graces:

  • Check your replies on Twitter to ensure they don’t defame a fellow Realtor.
  • Don’t follow people on Twitter who use the privacy feature to block you from seeing their tweets. You want to see what they’re saying before you follow them unless you really trust them.
  • Review comments from others on Facebook and LinkedIn to ensure Realtors are not being slammed.
  • If you have a blog and moderate the comments, you may want to delete questionable comments or edit them (as long as the revision is not misleading). If you don’t moderate, keep your eyes open for the ones that may get you in hot water and consider deleting.
  • Include a disclaimer at the bottom of each post on your blog.
  • Remember what your parents taught you…if you don’t have anything positive to say, don’t say anything at all.

Weigh in with your thoughts…just don’t use any names of fellow Realtors. 🙂

Be sure to pass this link on to fellow Realtors so they can learn about this too.

Copyright © 2009. Metro Brokers’ Blog. All rights reserved.
DISCLAIMER: This is NOT legal advice and should not be relied on as fact. This post contains my personal opinions and does not reflect the opinion of any organization I’m associated with. Consult an attorney in your state.

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14 Responses to “New NAR Code of Ethics Affect Social Media”

  1. Kevin Levent Says:

    I know we are all safe from such exposure as our Customer Satisfaction rating always stands somewhere between 94% – 96%!

  2. Kat Arrendale Says:

    One word: Wow. I know that antiquated documents need to be amended to keep up with the ever-changing times of the Techonology Era, but we can’t be expected to know and be able to control every little thing.
    Well, if it wasn’t this it would be something else.

  3. Charity Cason Says:

    It just goes back to what everyone’s mother always told them: You are judged by the company you keep.

    That is why it is important to associate yourself with positive, like minded people who do not feel a need to talk bad about others to increase their self esteem.

    It will be hard for those with a lot of “friends” and “followers” to monitor the comments, though…. Isn’t change always interesting?

  4. Terry Young Says:

    The COE has always extended to the printed media (Social Media tools are printed). As the Ethics Instructor here are Metro Brokers, I have always cautioned our agents about what is written – which has included your Facebook, MySpace and now Twitter. As a REALTOR, we should never ever speak, write, twitter or blog information that is “not nice”. Your parents taught you another lesson; “treat people the way you would want to be treated.” The added statement of “…including in use of social media tools” is just keeping up with the times. It is a shame that we need to be reminded to be Ethical.

    • Brenda Waters Says:

      The standard of practice hasn’t changed, just the means of communication. Having it in writing removes any question that we can gossip about fellow professionals and get by with it. I like it!

  5. conyersom Says:

    Guess it’s a little like being your brother’s keeper, having to monitor what others are saying/posting on your sites, but that’s the way it goes. The social networks are a modern version of that ol’ game, Gossip, and we all know how that can turn out- sometimes funny, sometimes not so funny. Anything that is a “He said, She said” scenario usually ends up a little dicey. But, we’ve been warned by the experts from the start that nothing is really deleted from the internet so always be careful what you put out there. Still, positive energy attracts positive energy (unless my science info is incorrect) so posting positive, verifiable info in an original post is the first step to policing your sites. Thanks for the informative article posts in a very timely manner.

  6. Alison Trevor Childs Says:

    In a perfect and simplistic world, we would all live by the “Golden Rule” but we all know that doesn’t exist.

    It is a shame that we have to be reminded to be ethical. However, it is also a shame that our government and other organizations throughout our great country seem to be moving more in the direction of more control. more censorship, and less freedom. Freedom of Speech really doesn’t exist without consequences, does it? That’s why it’s certainly better to be safe than sorry…

  7. Dennis Doll Says:

    As in any post, email, or any other activity, it is Always good to Start Brain BEFORE clicking SEND!

  8. Carl V. Singer Says:

    I am NOT a REALTOR (I am NOT impressed with the UPPERCASE thing; realtors, however useful/important are not special IMHO). I happen to be doing some research into the use of social media in general (including how it’s used in industries such as real-estate).

    The idea that some organization is going to state from on-high what can and can not be done is a bit silly to me (how can it possibly be policed everywhere?). It seems to me that it’s just COMMON SENSE that should rule when using ANY type of technology as what it’s supposed to be -as a TOOL.

    I agree w/ the “golden rule” in principal: don’t lie, don’t cheat, be nice, etc. However, what I have a problem w/ is the idea of removing a blog reader’s comments about whatever. It just doesn’t sit right with me.

    One of the great things about social media is that if someone is STUPID enough to make false or misleading statements about a fellow realtor, there is a kind of “networked justice” that can and usually takes place by those that read and identify the statements. People do NOT like to be lied to. To me, it is social and professional SUICIDE for a realtor to slam another or make false statements or otherwise do anything unbecoming of a PROFESSIONAL.

    That’s it. Have a great Memorial Day weekend.

  9. Arthur Harris Says:

    The bottom line is always act and express yourself professionally regardless of what media you may use. We are liscened and trained Realtors and more is exspected of us.

  10. ann bone Says:

    NAR is fighting an uphill battle by requiring Realtors to sanitize the remarks of others. How do I know that a comment on my blog is from a Realtor? Should I look up every commentor on the GREC website? That’s a problem because too many comments are posted without the comentors real name (see conyersom, above). Also, many a commentor “used to be in real estate”, has an inactive license, is related to someone who was/is “in real estate”, any of which may be a Realtor or not. Shame on the Realtor who disparages a competitor on my blog, but am I responsible because they happened to post their remark on my site? Makes me think twice about taking the effort to blog since places to express opinions seem to attract the folks with extreme (positive or negative) comments.

    And I have a silly question: how do I remove someone’s comment?

  11. Suzy Britz Says:

    We should all think before we Click ..Accept,reply,send etc!

  12. Adrianne Arrowood Says:

    Thanks for the post! People are crazy for not using more Twitter.

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