Can a non-HOA member of a building run a Facebook Group or Page related to the building?

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Can a non-HOA member of a building run a Facebook Group or Page related to the building?

The Board HOA has no control over the topics posted in the page and they are concerned certain discussions may negatively affect the value of the building.Not having any equity in the building, the Admin of the Group does not have any interest in filtering topics in the discussion thread. However, he does not earn any income directly or indirectly by running the Page. The Board of the Association is concerned about the impossibility to control the posting and would like to understand if there is a possibility to seek legal remedy.

Asked on December 2, 2017 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, anyone may run a Facebook (or other social media) page about anything they like unless there is a written agreement or contract restricting them from doing so. There is no legal basis to stop them from doing this. If they defame the buildering (or any board/HOA members) it may, however, be possible, to take legal action (i.e. sue) against them. Defamation is the making of provably untrue factual statements--not opinions--that damage reputation. Examples:
He posts that the building has mold when it does not: that is likely defamation, since it is an untrue factual assertion. He may be sued.
He posts that the building has mold when it does: even though you'd rather that did not get out, it is true, so it is not defamation.
He posts that the common areas are "run down" and "ugly": that is an opinion (i.e. a subjective value judgment), not a factual assertion and so is not defamation. (The law allows everyone to have their own opinion.)


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