Social media tools are a great way for community associations to increase engagement with their residents, but they can leave communities vulnerable to potential legal risks if managed inappropriately.

Adopting a social media policy can allow communities to assign responsibility over its use and minimize abusive practices, says attorney Katrina Solomatina of Berding & Weil in Walnut Creek, Calif.

Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor, as well as websites, online newsletters, and email blasts, allow community associations to facilitate communication between homeowners, provide real-time updates, and give members the ability to offer instant feedback to the board.

At the same time, social media can be abused by users through practices such as cyberbullying, defamation, and invasion of privacy, Solomatina notes.

Comments made through social media can have a negative effect on a community. That’s why it’s important for communities to determine who will manage and update social media platforms, who will monitor and respond to comments, who can control or remove content, who can post, and what type of content is prohibited. Community associations should adopt a policy that covers the above.

When an association operates a closed group or discussion board, like Nextdoor, for residents, Solomatina recommends a user policy that includes the following terms:

  1. You must be a resident or property owner in the community association
  2. Anonymity is prohibited
  3. You must use your real name
  4. Be respectful of others at all times
  5. Ranting is prohibited
  6. Personal attacks are not tolerated
  7. Commercial advertisements are prohibited
  8. Violators will be suspended

Solomatina will be presenting a session—Social Media: Community Association Friend or Foe?—at the 2019 CAI Annual Conference and Exposition: Community NOW, May 15-18, in Orlando.

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Kiara Candelaria

Kiara is associate editor for CAI’s print and digital publications. Before joining CAI, she worked for a trade media magazine focusing on the oil refining sector. Kiara also worked as an internal communications intern at the Library of Congress in 2015 and was a student journalist while attending college in Puerto Rico, where she was born and raised. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in information and journalism from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, in 2014 and is pursuing a master’s degree in communication at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Kiara currently resides in Arlington, Va., and enjoys watching sci-fi movies and television dramas, creative writing, and learning to play the ukulele in her spare time.

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