While all eyes this week are on the Election Day results across the country, there’s another vote taking place over the weekend in Orlando that will be of great interest to those concerned about Internet Data Exchange (IDX) policy changes that have been brewing for a few years, specifically the rules covering the “social media display” amendment to NAR”s IDX Policy and the companion IDX-specific model MLS rules.
Note that the NAR Board of Directors at the 2012 Midyear Meetings approved an amendment that gave MLS participants the ability to authorize limited electronic display of their listings by other participants. Electronic display subject to this policy means displays on participants public websites and displays using applications for mobile devices that participants control (such as tablets and mobile apps).
NAR will now consider the recommendation of the MLS Technology and Emerging Issues Subcommittee that local MLSs be given discretion to adopt and implement any policy addressing display of other participants’ listings outside of VOW and IDX. Here’s the Subcommittee’s recommendation (October 2012):
That a new MLS Statement of Policy be adopted reading as follows:
MLSs may but are not required to give participants the ability to authorize electronic display of their listings by other participants outside the context of the Internet Data Exchange (“IDX”) policy and rules and the Virtual Office Website (“VOW”) policy and rules. ( Ed.Note: these rules are separate from and do not change the existing IDX and VOW rules).
Participants may not be required to consent to display or distribution of their listings through non-IDX and non-VOW channels as a condition of participation in MLS or as a condition of participation in IDX. Electronic display and distribution pursuant to this policy contemplates, but is not limited to, Short Message Services (“SMS”) texting technologies, and interactive “social media”. All electronic displays and/or distribution of other participants’ listings conducted pursuant to this policy must comply with state law and regulations and applicable rules. (Ed. Note: state law varies and there are some states that may not permit this form of “advertising”).
Displays addressed by this policy may be subject to technological limitations on disabling/discontinuing third-party comments/reviews, disabling/discontinuing automated displays of market value, “refreshing” displays on a periodic basis, and possibly other issues which should be taken into consideration when developing rules and policies governing such displays.
In reading the comments submitted by members of the Subcommittee, it appears that there will be lively debate over the proposed social media display component, not the least of which is the very definition of what constitutes ‘social media.” Some respondents expressed concern that displaying other participants’ listings outside the context of VOW or IDX may result in over-exposure, misappropriation of listing data, failure to attribute listing participants, and license law violations. Others felt that such display would give greater exposure of listings to consumers, enhancing the possibility of quicker sales.
Regardless of whether NAR adopts the proposed policy, Broker A does have the right (subject to state law) to grant express permission to Broker B to display Broker A’s listings on Broker B’s site (or mobile device, or social media page). The issue is one of permissions. For a number of years, Point2 has successfully implemented its “Handshake” feature which facilitates the granting of permission between Point2 members to display each other’s listings.
If you were on the NAR Board of Directors, how would you vote on the proposed social media display component?