If an association creates a website where members can "talk shop" with one another, there's a possibility that the conversation could veer into the antitrust zone -- just as it could if the members were in the same room at a meeting sponsored by the association. But at a meeting, an association could (or should) have an attorney who will stand up and read the antitrust policy statement and also jump in and stop lines of discussion that raise antitrust problems. On the website, who's the antitrust "traffic cop" to protect the members (and the association)?And to make things worse, the association may actually be considered more cuplable by moderating discussions.
Clearly this is a Catch 22. On one side, some will argue that associations should be on guard by actively moderating conversations in their social media outlets, quickly shutting down conversations that have even the appearance of anti-trust or other illegal content. This would be the standard CAE exam response. Others will suggest that the more active role an organization takes in moderating user generated content, the more likely it will be considered a publisher (as opposed to a portal or conduit) of information, thereby raising its risk.
ASAE & The Center should really request some clarification on this from the DOJ and FTC.
Tagged: Association Management; Associations; CAE; Certified Association Executive