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Taking social media seriously

Drawing a line for business vs. personal communications

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In this increasingly communicative world, the age-old phrase, "Be careful what you say," may be due for a dust-off: "Be careful what you say, type, tweet, text, blog or e-mail." And as social media blurs the line between personal conversations and business communications, companies and groups within the real estate industry and in other industries are working to define the gray areas and draw clear lines about what's acceptable and what's not. Adding to the urgency are Federal Trade Commission-proposed guidelines, scheduled to take effect Dec. 1, 2009, that relate to proper vs. improper use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising -- and extend to new forms of media such as blogs. The FTC notes that "the recent development of a variety of consumer-generated media poses new questions about how to distinguish between communications that are considered 'endorsements' ... and those that are not." And "the fundamental question is whether,...