Don't get me wrong: I am a raving fan of twitter.com for lots of reasons including its honesty, openness, and transparency as a communication medium. Nevertheless, as the broker of my firm, I have seen a few tweets go by in these last few days that have made me cringe from a liability perspective. First as an example, I've taken a screen shot of a tweet from @tyr with whom I was discussing the topic. Notice the date and time at the bottom of the comment...
Now, keeping in mind that tweets could be entered as evidence in court, consider this tweet (I've removed the name from this one):
Whoa. As a broker-owner, I'd have grave concerns about one of my agents tweeting this. Chances are, and we hope, this single tweet will not affect the outcome of the home sale for this Twit's client but boy you can imagine numerous scenarios where it could and would affect the outcome. Imagine I'm a buyer considering writing an offer just $30K below asking. Well heck, I don't want to overpay for the property. If someone else was offering so much less, maybe it's not worth what I thought it was. Maybe I should write an offer for $80K under asking.
Is this kind of disclosure a breach of fiduciary duties to the seller clients? As professional real estate agents, shouldn't we be maintaining confidentiality about ongoing negotiations? Like other electronic communication such as email, once you hit 'enter' your tweets are out in the public domain, indelible (yes tweets create a permanent record on the internet which you CANNOT delete), and discoverable by a court of law. The National Law Journal has a great article entitled, "Beware: Your 'tweet' on Twitter could be trouble".
Perhaps tweets will not cause you to be involved in a lawsuit. They may still cost you clients. Check out this tweet (again I removed the name but in fact anybody can find these posts by searching twitter):
Then the next morning we hear:
I sure hope those buyers are not following the agent on Twitter, because if they are, I bet they don't care to work with that agent any longer. They would know the agent is referring to them because the date is clearly indicated! And if they are not following you now, they can start at any time or simply search the public timeline to see what you've been tweeting.
I love twitter and am already addicted beyond the point of no return. I ain't givin' it up. Yet something tells me I may not love it in the future if I have to defend against less-than-well-thought-out remarks on Twitter in a lawsuit. I am trying to make a habit of thinking 3 times before I hit send. Sure hope my agents will do the same.
BTW, you can find me (and...ahem...everything I've ever posted) at twitter.com/kathleenbuckley