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NAR Code of Ethics rules for Social Media, Realtors and Associations

ten-commandments2More “Thou Shalts”

It’s true according to VarBuzz that the new wisdom coming from NAR Midyear are new amendments to beef up the existing code of thou shall not talk smack about your fellow agents in blog posts or comments that cannot be backed up by empirical evidence- that’s a good thing, right? Yes, but be careful.

First of all, you shouldn’t be writing things that aren’t true on your blog in the first place, stories should be attributed to fact, or you should have possession of absolute fact.

On the other hand, the idea that you should or could actually edit commentary (post comments) is the deal breaker- because the minute you edit the comment, you own it. In other words, with the proper disclaimers, commenters own their words, until you edit them to suit your point of view- this includes redaction.

The answer is simple, the second a name is mentioned or you believe a comment could be offensive or do harm to reputation or business, just delete it.

Things that are missing from the amendment from what’s been released are as follows:

  • We’re a global read- how shall we deal with across state or board lines?
  • What constitutes a clarification- a disclaimer should suffice, do boards agree?
  • I noticed that the amendment did not include all social arenas (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • Will the NAR back Realtors who wish to sue 3rd party sites for misleading or false allegations?
  • Who will moderate he said/she saids between Realtors/Consumers in the social space?

Here’s a snippet provided by VarBuzz

Standard of Practice 15-2 was amended and a new Standard of Practice was approved to strengthen members’ obligations to refrain from making false or misleading statements about competitors, including in use of social media tools.

The new amendment includes the duty to publish a clarification about, or to remove statements made by, others on electronic media the REALTOR® controls once the REALTOR® knows the statement is false or misleading. For example, if you’re publishing a blog and someone posts a false or misleading comment about a fellow REALTOR® on it, it’s your duty to remove the post or publish a clarification when you become aware of it.

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Separately, the board approved a change to the NAR Bylaws, imposing the same duties on associations and MLSs as on members to not make false or misleading statements against competitors, competitors’ business practices, or competitors’ companies.

For what it’s worth, I actually think this is a good thing- it’s just too easy for losers to attack you when they have nothing credible to add to the conversation.

What are your thoughts? Sick of public smears on fellow Realtors, bloggers? Do you think that in order to use MLS data that 3rd party sites like Trulia or Zillow have to agree to the same COE?

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.



  1. Ken Brand

    May 18, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    I’m in agreement.

    Should be some rules about sucker punching with a smear haymaker. If you wouldn’t print your false and misleading statements in a newspaper or a magazine, you shouldn’t on the web either.

    Let’s face it, the web/blogging/etc., well, it’s been a sorta free range, Deadwood style from time to time.

    I don’t see how NAR could impose these article on 3rd parties.

    I imagine that over time, most every article will have to edited to include forms of electoric/web media.

    Interesting times.

    Yep, I think deleting is the way to go.

  2. Benn Rosales

    May 18, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    I just got an offline clarification that the amendment covers all media used by Realtors to include any form of electronic media, so it would include Twitter and facebook and other forums as well.

  3. Benn Rosales

    May 18, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    “I don’t see how NAR could impose these article on 3rd parties.”

    and that’s the most unfortunate part- we’re held to a different standard than 3rd party sites that publish our content.

  4. Spero Speropoulos

    May 19, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Yes Realtor’s should be held to a higher standard.
    No we can’t hold third parties to our standards.
    We should by no means, social or other, smear the name of anyone, especially one of our own. We have a fantastic system for complaints.
    Let the media and the others say what they want. Stone throwing only makes the pitcher look bad anyway.
    The public is not stupid. In the long run we will be judged fairly.

  5. Jack Lindberg

    May 28, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    wow… a small step. We are worried about 3rd parties? And yet I see brokers hand over their data to just about anyone for display…without that party being held to the same standards – esp. licensing! When Google came to me about their ‘widget’, the first thing i warned my broker clients about is that once they hand that data over, they lose control and if Google did something that was against licensing laws, the broker is still responsible. We still have major problems with technology in the industry and not enough people that know what they are doing…

  6. Joe Loomer

    May 28, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    @Jack – check out the MIBOR/NAR vs Paula Henry stuff about indexing vs. scraping – right up your alley.

    I’m a firm believer in not worrying about the future and just live by the lessons I’ve learned from my parents and the World’s Finest Navy. I figure it’s kept me out of trouble this long.

    I do think that first time the 3rd party issue pops up is going to fun to watch – or not – depending on how it plays out.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

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