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Until fairly recently, social media was relatively unfiltered. It was a forum where people could speak their minds; a place to vent and to interact with others who have similar interests and problems. While some restrictions have now been imposed  -- for example, participants are usually not permitted to "harass” or “bully” others -- social media is still used for “venting” about products and services.

For businesses, this can be a helpful tool. Most use that input to adjust and give consumers what they want. However, that model never applied to condos and co-ops, as The Cooperator reported in its October issue. “It may come to as a surprise to many that in the world of co-ops and condominiums, social media is glaringly absent from communication channels in the majority of residential communities,” noted The Cooperator.

Stuart Halper, the VP of Impact Realty, believes that having a social media presence would only spark groups on Facebook and Twitter, which would encourage tenants and community members to get on soapboxes. “You don’t want residents airing out their ‘dirty laundry’ in a forum that anyone can see,” Halper notes. “There’s always the possibility of a begrudging owner or shareholder misusing [the forum]. Frankly, board members could misuse it.”

But many disagree with that notion. Led Black, a social media consultant says that “social media is a cost-effective way of reaching potential customers.” He advises sales agents, managing agents, and brokers to be active on social media, as it’s yet another way to promote their listings.

While that may be ring true for the sale or marketing of units, “condo associations themselves are not looking to hook in new people,” said real estate agent Bobby Woofter. “When units are for sale, you see social media used by the marketing team. The social media presence for the unit – or for the entire building – isn’t maintained after the property is sold, or after the project is sold out.”

“We don’t believe social media is appropriate for addressing day-to-day issues that arise in the cooperative or condominium context. It lends itself too readily to abuse ... and, to litigation," noted Jonathan H. Newman, Senior Partner at Newman Ferrara LLP. “We see an array of defamation and privacy-violation claims that would likely arise, if disparaging comments or other information were to be publicly posted about residents. Best for that costly exposure to be avoided, if possible.” He added, “Sometimes silence is truly golden.”

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