Risk Management Tip Regarding Social Media

Seventy percent (70%) of the online population in the United States is currently utilizing some form of social media. The most popular forms include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. While there are innumerable benefits to using social media, there are also detriments, which need to be recognized.

There is a new wave of litigation arising out of social media and claims of defamation. Recently, in a case in California, a jury awarded a plaintiff $2.5 million claiming that the blogger defamed them. (See Obsidian Finance Group, LLC v. Cox 740 Feb 3 1284 (9th Circuit 2014)). While that case was reversed in part on appeal, the point remains the same – the case arises out of a defendant’s objectionable comments on her blog regarding the plaintiffs.

The real estate industry relies heavily on social media. It is strongly recommended that agents use good judgment in their posts on social media. Issues creating concerns include the following: making defamatory statements about real property; making inappropriate comments about clients or other agents; making inaccurate statements; or issuing inappropriate opinions pertaining to the condition or value of property. Agents are encouraged to use social media safely, but to review their submissions before posting to ensure the posts are made with good judgment.

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