Social Media & Fair Housing


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Does a community Facebook page have Fair Housing implications for owners and managers? What about one created by residents that is maintained by them, but the manager comments in periodically? Can showing the faces of residents in your Flickr gallery be construed as having a disparate impact? What about the user-generated content on review sites? Following the and Craigslist cases, local Fair Housing agencies have a greater interest in understanding the changes in advertising practice online. Listen to experts outline problems, gray areas and risk mitigation steps as the law starts to catch up to technology.

Nadeen Green, Senior Counsel, For Rent Media Solutions
Theresa L. Kitay, Attorney at Law

Published in: Real Estate, Technology, Business
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Social Media & Fair Housing

  1. 1. Fair Housing & Social Media: An 8 (or so) Point Plan <ul><li>Theresa L. Kitay / Attorney at Law </li></ul><ul><li>Law Office of Theresa L. Kitay </li></ul><ul><li>Marina del Rey, CA </li></ul><ul><li>Nadeen Green / Senior Counsel </li></ul><ul><li>For Rent Media Solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Atlanta, GA </li></ul><ul><li>Doug Chasick, CPM, CAPS, CAS, SLE, CDEI </li></ul><ul><li>The CallSource Apartment Doctor </li></ul><ul><li>Melbourne Beach, FL </li></ul>
  2. 2. Fair Housing Liability for Discriminatory Statements <ul><li>Two key decisions in the internet context: </li></ul><ul><li>Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. v. Craigslist (2008) </li></ul><ul><li>Fair Housing Council of the San Fernando Valley v. (2008) </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Discriminatory real estate ads appear on Craigslist </li></ul><ul><li>Craigslist is not the author of the ads </li></ul><ul><li>Craigslist is not the “publisher” </li></ul><ul><li>Court’s conclusion: “Can’t sue the messenger just because the message reveals a third party’s plan to engage in unlawful discrimination.” </li></ul>Craigslist
  4. 4. <ul><li>Mandatory questionnaire for users of roommate matching service. </li></ul><ul><li> is the author of the questionnaire, used to match roommates through a filtered search by the site user. </li></ul>
  5. 5. “ Author” or “Publisher” is liable as an “ information content provider ;” actor with no similar control over content has exemption under Communications Decency Act (and thus FHA).
  6. 6. <ul><li>Control Liability </li></ul>
  7. 7. Target Marketing Through Social Media <ul><li>Any Fair Housing concerns? </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t collect info that has anything to do with FHA protections (including gender identification) because of steering concerns. </li></ul><ul><li>Any privacy concerns? </li></ul><ul><li>Not really - what’s out there is public. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Fair Housing and Data Mining <ul><li>Information may be collected and made available to: </li></ul><ul><li>prospects and residents </li></ul><ul><li>third parties </li></ul><ul><li>and used for: </li></ul><ul><li>target marketing </li></ul><ul><li>making “connections” or “friends” </li></ul><ul><li>post comments </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Control Liability </li></ul><ul><li>Data Mining </li></ul>
  10. 10. Does your company have a Social Media Policy? <ul><li>Some things to think about: </li></ul><ul><li>The culture of your company or organization. </li></ul><ul><li>When and where can employees visit? </li></ul><ul><li>When and where can employees post? </li></ul><ul><li>What can they post? </li></ul><ul><li>How will you handle posts by employees that are inappropriate or unlawful? </li></ul><ul><li>Will your employees be allowed to “friend” residents? </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Control Liability </li></ul><ul><li>Data Mining </li></ul><ul><li>Policies </li></ul>
  12. 12. PEOPLE IN SOCIAL MEDIA THE MANTRA <ul><li>If before it wasn’t legal in print, it is still not legal in print. </li></ul><ul><li>If before it wasn’t legal in print, it is not likely to be legal for Social Media. </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Control Liability </li></ul><ul><li>Data Mining </li></ul><ul><li>Policies </li></ul><ul><li>Internet = Print </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Human models </li></ul><ul><li>Real Live Folks (dead is also OK) </li></ul><ul><li>Avatars </li></ul><ul><li>Characters </li></ul><ul><li>In short, any depiction of a “person” counts. </li></ul>What’s “People”?
  15. 15. <ul><li>The message is clear - diversity is the key. </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Control Liability </li></ul><ul><li>Data Mining </li></ul><ul><li>Policies </li></ul><ul><li>Internet = Print </li></ul><ul><li>Diversity is the key </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>A reasonable person engaging with your SM site should see people of different race, color and ethnicity, and thus feel welcome. </li></ul><ul><li>Show people with disabilities and children, too (unless you’re exempt senior housing). </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Those diverse folks should be shown with equal dignity; for example, people of color should not always be the maintenance staff providing services for white residents. </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>OK, if: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Their depiction is fair housing compliant, </li></ul><ul><li>AND </li></ul><ul><li>2. You have model releases which you will keep forever. </li></ul>What about showing staff?
  20. 20. What about showing residents? <ul><li>OK if: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Their depiction is fair housing compliant, </li></ul><ul><li>AND </li></ul><ul><li>2. You have model releases which you will keep forever. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Best Practice: ALL printed material, including the internet!
  22. 22. <ul><li>Control Liability </li></ul><ul><li>Data Mining </li></ul><ul><li>Policies </li></ul><ul><li>Internet = Print </li></ul><ul><li>Diversity is the key </li></ul><ul><li>Use the EHO logo </li></ul>
  23. 23. Accessing your website or other internet presence?
  24. 24. Website Accessibility <ul><li>ADA requires accessibility for “places of public accommodation” </li></ul><ul><li>Any “place” that offers housing for rent or sale is a “public accommodation” that must be accessible, including a website. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Why Website Accessibility? <ul><li>People who cannot see computer monitors may use screen readers to “speak” the text. </li></ul><ul><li>People who have difficulty using a mouse can use voice recognition software for verbal commands. </li></ul><ul><li>AND... DOJ enforces the ADA with regard to website accessibility. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Follow the “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines” - <ul><li>Examples of barriers to people with disabilities: </li></ul><ul><li>Photographs without identifying text </li></ul><ul><li>Navigation links without a “skip” feature </li></ul><ul><li>Unclear description of a text link (i.e., “click here”) </li></ul><ul><li>Use of pdf exclusively </li></ul><ul><li>No telephone or email contact information </li></ul>
  27. 27.
  28. 28. <ul><li>Control Liability </li></ul><ul><li>Data Mining </li></ul><ul><li>Policies </li></ul><ul><li>Internet = Print </li></ul><ul><li>Diversity is the key </li></ul><ul><li>Use the EHO logo </li></ul><ul><li>Accessible means accessible </li></ul>
  29. 29. Important Things we didn’t talk about - because we only had one hour! <ul><li>Sexual harassment via social media </li></ul><ul><li>Employee-owned mobile phone use </li></ul><ul><li>Electronic communication retention policies </li></ul>
  30. 30. <ul><li>Control Liability </li></ul><ul><li>Data Mining </li></ul><ul><li>Policies </li></ul><ul><li>Internet = Print </li></ul><ul><li>Diversity is the key </li></ul><ul><li>Use the EHO logo </li></ul><ul><li>Accessible means accessible </li></ul><ul><li>Just say KNOW! </li></ul>
  31. 31. More questions than answers! The world of social media is a world that is quickly evolving. Keep your eyes open, your ears to the ground, and know just to where you are leaping!
  32. 32. <ul><li>Control Liability </li></ul><ul><li>Data Mining </li></ul><ul><li>Policies </li></ul><ul><li>Internet = Print </li></ul><ul><li>Diversity is the key </li></ul><ul><li>Use the EHO logo </li></ul><ul><li>Accessible means accessible </li></ul><ul><li>Just say KNOW! </li></ul><ul><li>Informed decision </li></ul>