Social Media & Condo Boards – Perks and Problems
When one is part of a condominium association or its board of directors, one must of course comply with all the rules of the organization. However, as technology has developed, new tools and questions appear when trying to maintain condo board meetings and records, with social media being perhaps the most commonly used new tool. Under Florida law, there are some new methods considered more acceptable than others.
Board Meeting Issues
The major method in which social media is used concerns condo board meetings, more specifically regarding quorum counts. In Florida, the law mandates that a quorum, usually consisting of a majority of the voting interests, be present for a meeting of the association membership to do any business. In the past, it was necessary for voting members to be physically present, or to nominate a proxy to be present for them. This was a laborious process that often led to disputes and confusion.
As of July 2015, electronic voting is now permitted, as long as the board clearly develops and communicates the requirements it will apply for voting via internet. It also, however, permits an owner to continue to vote via paper ballot if they prefer to do so. Still, the change in the law is a welcome one for most people, especially those who are not always present. It also means that associations have less to fear about holding a meeting, only to have it not count .
The other area in which social media has come to play a role is in maintaining and navigating the websites that many condo associations set up and maintain. It is not at all uncommon for a condominium association to have a site with information, meeting minutes, and amenities for members such as online bulletin boards. However, with increased internet presence there is often an increased likelihood of poor etiquette or even legal infractions, both out of malice and ignorance.
Websites and social networks are breeding grounds for accusations of libel, copyright infringement, and breach of privacy. The Media Law Resource Center in New York reports lawsuits valued at as high as $17 million in 2009, the year of the most recent available data, against bloggers and webmasters, primarily for actions like interference with contractual relations and libel. Your condo board must have policies in place to safeguard the association against liability, and strictly adhere to those policies.
There is some legal protection against liability. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and Sec. 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) are federal laws which protect against copyright infringement and defamation, respectively. Still, it is incumbent upon your condo board to set policies that must be followed.
Contact A Condominium Attorney
Interpreting and understanding condo law can be very confusing, especially when both law and technology evolve at rapid paces. If you need experienced assistance, the firm of Steven A. Mason, P.A. , is happy to guide you through the process of ensuring your condo board meets all the legal requirements that it must meet. Contact the Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. for legal advice at 954-963-5900 or leave a message online.