Does Your Association Have a Social Media Policy?

Today’s associations understand the need to convey, and even over-communicate, important information to their members. To that end, some associations have jumped into the cyberworld with their own Facebook and/or Twitter pages. Before jumping in with both feet, however, associations should consider adopting a social media policy. Before putting together such a policy, the board should consider the following:

1.  How does the association want to use Facebook and/or Twitter?

  • Does the association just want to provide information one-way, and thus not allow owners/fans/friends to post or comment?
  • Does the association want to use sites to promote discussions, interaction, and sharing of ideas, thereby allowing others to post or comment?

2.  Regardless of the purpose for which the association is using a Facebook and/or Twitter site, the board should decide who, on behalf of the association, is authorized to update and post on the sites so that communications from the association can be controlled and monitored.

3.  Who will be able to “friend” or “follow” the association’s site? Only owners? Anybody?

4.  If the sites are to be used to promote discussions and others will have the capability to post, the following considerations should be taken into account by the board when formulating the association’s social media policy:

  • Will posting negative or disparaging comments about the association be allowed?
  • If not, who is going to monitor the comments/posts? What criteria is to be used to determine if a particular comment/post is to be removed?

5.  In addition to the above, there are some liability concerns to take into consideration:

  • If the association has a policy that it will take down negative posts, if the policy is not clear regarding criteria for removing posts, the association could be faced with the risk of a claim based on discrimination if it seems one particular person’s or group of people’s posts are removed more readily than others.
  • In relation to removing posts, if someone posts a defamatory comment concerning another and the association does not remove such post, one may argue the association has taken on liability for the content of that defamatory post.
  • Would the association’s insurance cover claims of discrimination or defamation related to posts on the association’s Facebook and/or Twitter accounts?

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