Realtors are governed by online policy


Wechat has provided a boon to everyone who reads and writes Chinese. It has become a powerful social connection tool that almost all of us have signed up to communicate with friends, families and schoolmates.


But this enjoyable social platform has its dark side. Some online posts can be construed as “offensive” to various levels. While some might be entitled to a threat score that warrants police investigation, others are from trolls who directly vent their anger or hurt other group members. These offensive comments are so hurtful that they have sparked anger and outrage from other group members.


A Chinese Wechat group that I’ve joined are from Chinese professionals, intellectuals across the world.  Many group members use their true identities to share their views on many issues in daily life -- particularly political matters. Most comments are polite, respectful and facts based.


There is a female group member who identifies herself as a real estate agent. Her profile shows her real identity and a picture of herself in a business suit.


She had posted information saying that the statue of Mao Zedong is being displayed at the Whitehouse. But her claim soon refuted by other group members as rumour. The comments from opponents seemed to have enraged her, as she started to hurl insults at each and every one of them.


“You are a son of bitch… Your mother was a female pig!” she said this towards one man.


“You wife is a bitch who has slept around… You deserve no better as you are such an asshole,” she attacked another who barely knows her.


Her reaction immediately shocked the entire group. They can hardly believe that these comments were from a woman who holds a professional job and whose social skills play a large role in the success of her career. Some men quickly announced quitting, whereas those being attacked demanded an immediate apology from her.


But instead of expressing regrets, she continued with her onslaught, until a group member Googled her contact information and threatened to approach her employer.


In fact, many realtors associations or real estate companies have issued policies that govern realtors’ behaviours in social media, as offensive online comments may directly reflect the image of the company or the realtors’ association. These policies do not allow offensive comments, discriminatory slurs or personal insults.


While respecting free speech, these online policies intend to raise awareness of the risks realtors face when posting online. The online comments are the legacy of the posters. Even being deleted, they could still be exposed to the public.


When contacted, the employer she works for promised to investigate after collecting factual details.


Recently, a group of dentist students at Dalhousie University allegedly posted crude sexual comments and homophobic slurs on Facebook. These posts, which hurt women directly, have incurred serious consequences.


These students’ behavior has breached school’s sexual harassment policy. The school has decided to separate the students from their regular classes, as the pressure   to suspend the students from classes mounts.


The incident has provided a value lesson for all of us – watch out when posting online.

我们鼓励所有读者在我们的文章和博客上分享意见。We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful. Visit the FAQ page for more information.