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Managing Misinformation on Social Media

In today’s digital age, online platforms and social media have become effective tools for communication and community engagement. These forums can be an easy and efficient method for boards to communicate with owners. In these instances, the board controls the online content.

But, what about online platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp, started by an owner, or group of owners, to facilitate communication and share information? Owners who start a community Facebook page, or other online platform, often have good intentions, and there may be some benefits. However, the use of online platforms by owners also presents challenges, such as the rapid spread of misinformation that can negatively impact the reputation and cohesion of the community.

Board members have limited control over what owners and residents post on private social media platforms. As such, misinformation on these forums can quickly lead to confusion and discord within a community association. Whether it’s false rumors about association policies, inaccurate statements about board decisions, or misleading information about community events and upcoming projects, addressing misinformation promptly is crucial to maintaining transparency and trust among owners and residents.

If your community is facing issues with owner-initiated online platforms, consider taking the following steps:

  1. Request Disclaimers and Name Changes: Initiate contact with the administrators of the online group.  Request a disclaimer or name change to clarify that the page is not actually affiliated with the community association and the board.
  2. Develop a Response Strategy: When addressing misinformation on social media, make sure to follow these guidelines:
  • Prompt Response: Address misinformation promptly and succinctly to prevent its further spread.
  • Stay Calm and Professional: Maintain a composed and respectful tone in all communications. Do not engage in online debates! Remember, you are speaking on behalf of the corporation.
  • Provide Correct Information: Clearly state the facts and correct any inaccuracies without devolving into confrontations.
  • Direct Residents to Official Channels: Encourage residents to seek accurate information from official association communications
  1. Foster Transparent Communication: Re-evaluate current communication channels and promote transparent practices within the community:
  • Provide Owners Regular Updates: Keep residents informed through habitual newsletters, emails, or community meetings.
  • Encourage Questions and Feedback: Create spaces for residents to voice concerns and seek clarifications directly from the board.
  • Monitor Communication Channels: Whatever platform the association decides to use, make sure to regularly check for owner feedback.
  1. Educate Residents on Reliable Sources: Empower residents to discern credible information sources from unreliable ones. Encourage them to verify information with the board before sharing or believing it.
  2. Foster Community Unity: Emphasize the importance of unity and collaboration in combating misinformation. Highlight shared community association values and goals to foster a supportive environment.

If responding to misinformation online becomes an endless process of chasing its own tail, the board may consider developing and administering a communications policy that clarifies the board’s involvement. It should reiterate that the board does not review any social media platforms that have not been created by the association and advise how to spot fake communication channels by directing owners to a specific mailing address, electronic mail address, or online portal that the board monitors and will respond to.

Navigating unofficial online platforms requires a delicate balance between respecting owners’ and residents’ rights and protecting the association’s reputation.  As board members, your dedication to accurate communication and community welfare plays a crucial role in maintaining a harmonious living environment.

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