Complexes around the United States are making news for their use of social networking for marketing and gaining popularity around.

However, what if tenants share experiences like these?

Various apartment complexes around have come up with strategies like demanding the tenants to give a “Facebook like” in a time frame of five days.

But what makes it interesting is the inability to accept the bad publicity that comes hand in hand with the good publicity. Some examples of landlords pressurizing tenants are:

  • Florida apartment complex that was got exposed for giving tenants a contract prohibiting negative online reviews
  • An apartment complex in Utah tried to pressure tenants into giving positive feedback. One apartment complex’s rule: you write a bad review, we fine you $10k.
  • Windermere Cay’s “Social Media Addendum” wanted copyrights to its tenants’ photos.
  • Tenants at City Park Apartments received a “Facebook Addendum” posted on their doors, explaining what’s expected of them, a requirement that they had to “friend” the complex in five days. The result being the downpour of “likes,” the City Park Apartments contract turned into a story on all news stations. By Sunday, it went national. The complex did not get the positive feedback it hoped for instead it has agonized more than 800 one-star reviews on an unofficial Facebook page.

Jason Ring, a tenant said, “I don’t want to be forced to be someone’s friend and be threatened to break my lease because of that, it’s outrageous as far as I’m concerned.”  The Addendum bans negative reviews as well. The contracts require the tenants to give up their rights to review the services did not hold up in court. The contract itself can make the companies liable.

In 2003, a judge from New York found out that a contract which did not allow customers from issuing reviews on software programs “without prior consent, apparently violating the state’s unfair “competition law”. The document also includes a release letting the complex to publish photos of tenants and their visitors on Facebook.

 

The US job market has seen another trend in employers trying to gain access to potential employees’ social networks, and legislators speeding up to protect them from such measures.  Experts say Canadians do not have much to worry about. Labor laws in Canada offer stern protection from employers who inquire newbies for information such as social media passwords. Rules in the United States are much more negligent, several cases in which potential managers have asked their candidates to turn over their login information.

This caused uproar in about two states –Illinois and Maryland have both scheduled legislation that forbids public agencies from gaining access to social networks. Labor problems fall under the jurisdiction of the provinces, but federal law is being put in place to protect personal information. Legislation across the borders is harsher than what exists in the United States.

While there are no laws that specifically deal with social media, the nation’s legal tradition makes the issue quite definite.  “In Canada we’ve always respected privacy rights, which means that the employer does not have, and should not have, access to personal information,” said Mr. Cavaluzzo.

The debate features many companies that are trying to pull personal details contained in social media profiles, sometimes even with direct means. Mr. Robert Collins of Maryland is an example, he was asked to hand over his Facebook password so that the hiring manager could evaluate his application to be put back as a prison guard. He said that he was told that his profile would be combed thoroughly to look for evidence of any gang connections.

Some candidates have been asked to log onto their social networks on computers at the site or worse become “friends” with a hiring manager during the interview process.

Some who oppose such practices criticize them as privacy violations. Employers have even gone on record about these tactics stating that the candidates are free to refuse such requests if it makes them uncomfortable. Even “Facebook” warned employers not to demand the passwords of applicants, mentioning that it’s an invasion of privacy that leaves companies with legal liabilities. “If you are a Facebook user, you should never have to share your password,” wrote Erin Egan Facebook’s chief privacy officer.

 To sum up what is actually going on, is that people are trying to boost popularity by coming up with what starts off as an ingenious idea and then progresses into utter invasion of privacy. The United States is the birth place of this new fad; other nations have more stringent social networking laws in place. That makes sure that such demand of trying to gain access to other people’s profiles is a crime. Marketing is one thing but when an option turned into a rule, the public needs to agree and follow and if it comes at the cost of “privacy”, then it’s a strict No-No. They can be advised to do the needful to promote the respected companies but obliging them was definitely one method that was never going to work.

Image: Flickr