Can a non-HOA member of a building run a Facebook group or page related to the building if the Association has issued a Social Media Policy against such practice AFTER the Facebook page or group was open?

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Can a non-HOA member of a building run a Facebook group or page related to the building if the Association has issued a Social Media Policy against such practice AFTER the Facebook page or group was open?

As the Board of the HOA has no control over the topics posted in the page, they are concerned certain discussions may negatively affect the value of the building. Not having any equity in the building, the administrator of the group does not have any interest anymore she was previously part of the HOA in filtering topics in the discussion thread. However, she does not earn any income directly or indirectly by running the page.For this reason, the Board tried to regulate the presence of the HOA in the social media by issuing a social media policy. The policy specifically disallow any non-HOA member to be an administrator of any social media HOA related profiles. However, such policy was enacted after the Facebook group was open and after the administrator was not part of the HOA anymore.Also, will the non-HOA member be responsible as administrator of any defamation post against the building in the Facebook page or only the person who posted such a defamatory statement be responsible? The Board is concerned about the impossibility to control the posting and would like to understand if there is a possibility to seek legal remedy either: (1) the current setup is against the social media policy, or (2) any defamatory post/statement is found in the Facebook page.

Asked on January 4, 2018 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If the board has authority under the HOA rules to enact a social media policy, then if a HOA member violates it, they can take whatever action they are allowed to take under the governing documents for HOA rules, etc. violations. The key is making sure that they actually have the power to enact them.
If there is defamation, you can hold the poster liable (e.g. sue him or her). If the page administrator edited, modified, or otherwise contributed to the content, you could hold the administrator liable, too. But if the administrator does not participate in the post in some way but simply allows it on the page, he or she is not liable; you need to have him or her do something beyond simply maintaining the page for liability to attach (the same way that FaceBook is not liable for its members' posts, or a newspaper for comments in the letters to the editor).


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