Legally speaking: Is my Facebook page considered advertising?
On March 23, 2015
By Peg Ritenour, OAR Vice President of Legal Services/Administration
The OAR Legal Assistance Hotline receives an array of real estate-related legal questions — including license law issues, disclosure, contract law, ethics and commission problems, among others. In an effort to help you work within the law, our “Legally Speaking” series spotlights some of the timely questions that are being asked by REALTORS. This one involves the issue of whether social media sites are considered advertising…
Q: I recently listed a property and posted it on my business Facebook page. I included my brokerage name as required by Ohio license law. However, another agent has put information about my listing on her Facebook page, without my name or my broker’s name, so it looks like it’s her listing. Is this ok? Are Facebook and other social media sites considered advertising?
A: Social media sites such as Facebook, twitter, and LinkedIn are considered advertising if a licensee uses these sites to:
- Promote their services as a licensee, or
- Make known to the public properties that are for sale or lease.
Therefore, if a licensee posts information about available property on social media sites it will be considered advertising and the advertising requirements contained in Ohio license law apply. One of these requirements is that the ad must include the brokerage name. From your question it appears that when you posted your new listing on your Facebook page you included your name and that of your brokerage, so you were in compliance with this obligation.
As to the other agent who posted information on her Facebook page about your listing, this would be considered advertising as well. Ohio’s license law includes a rule that specifically addresses a licensee advertising a property that he/she does not have listed. Under this rule in order for a licensee to do this, the following two requirements must be met:
- The licensee must obtain the written permission of the owner (in a FSBO situation) or the owner’s authorized agent (the listing agent or broker); and
- If consent is given by the listing agent or broker, the listing broker’s name must be included in the ad in at least the same size font that is used to describe the property.
Therefore, the other agent who posted information on her Facebook page needed your permission before doing so and if you consented, also needed to include your brokerage name in the posting in a font size at least equal to that used to describe the property. The rationale behind this rule is to make sure that the public is not misled to believe that the licensee has the property listed when he/she does not.
For more information on advertising on your website and social media, watch this short video that appeared previously at the OAR Daily Buzz.
Tags: legal, Legally Speaking