April 15, 2019 – Question: Many of our owners have joined a social media site that is not controlled by the association. On this site, owners can post comments about contractors, news and even association business. The problem is that the information being disseminated is inaccurate, and usually very mean and defamatory. What can we do, or what should we do, in response? – D.F., Lakewood Park
Answer: Social media poses a particularly difficult problem for community associations because its users are not necessarily talking about products, politics or food – they are talking about their homes and how they live in their homes. The result is that members on social media will post passionate, and very often misinformed, rumors and inaccurate information in an attempt to either a) attack and discredit the board and management company for a personal agenda, or b) attempt to confirm rumors which are usually based on misinformation.
In my experience, when board members attempt to engage in an online debate concerning these attacks or misinformation, the result is not good. We all want to defend ourselves, and so the reaction is natural and understandable (particularly when the social media discussion is defamatory and untrue), but people are generally different behind a computer than in person. The board member responding in anger or frustration may also paint a picture of the rest of the board that may not be representative.
Source: Editor’s note: Attorneys at Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC, respond to questions about Florida community association law. The firm represents community associations throughout Florida and focuses on condominium and homeowner association law, real estate law, litigation, estate planning and business law.
© 2019 Journal Media Group, Steve Adamczyk