In 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.