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 for 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.

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