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Tenants angry after apartment building orders them to 'friend' it on Facebook

Technically Incorrect: The owners of a Salt Lake City apartment building change the tenancy agreement and give tenants five days to like the building on Facebook. Or else.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


The new "agreement."

KSL-TV screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

There's something forced about Facebook relationships.

If someone "friends" you, you feel duty-bound to reciprocate. Even if that person is, well, entirely unknown to you.

That forced feeling can go too far.

As KSL-TV reports, residents of an apartment building in Salt Lake City, Utah, say they found a curious piece of paper stuck to their doors.

Headlined "Facebook Addendum," it had fascinating stipulations.

It insisted that tenants had five days to "friend" the City Park Apartments on Facebook or they'd be in breach of their lease. The fact that they'd already signed their lease perhaps months previously didn't seem to matter to the owners.

Oh, and then there was the part about releasing the building owners to post pictures of the tenants or their visitors to, yes, the building's Facebook page.

You will also be traumatized into delirium when I tell you that another stipulation was that the tenants don't post anything negative on social media. This seems a strangely unbalanced "friendship."

One tenant, Jason Ring, told KSL: "I don't want to be forced to be someone's friend and be threatened to break my lease because of that."

Ring believes it's a violation of his privacy. It's hard not to sympathize. What right does an apartment complex have to force you to use a social network? What if you don't even have a Facebook account? Do you try to negotiate and say you'll give them a nice Yelp review?

Perhaps the owners thought this was reasonable, modern behavior. A spokesman for the law offices of Kirk A. Cullimore, which represents the building owners, offered me this explanation:

As part of opening its pool and an anticipated pool party, City Park desired to provide some protection to its residents and its owners from usage of photos on its Facebook page from all community events, including the opening pool party. The "Facebook" addendum was provided to them to assist in that protection. That addendum went beyond the request and intent of City Park Apartments, and was not carefully reviewed to ensure that it met with their needs and requests. At no time was any resident in jeopardy of eviction or action from City Park for failure to sign the addendum or "friend" City Park Apartments. City Park has not implemented the addendum nor is it requiring its residents to execute it.

For its part Facebook, when asked whether the apartment building's actions might be against its terms of service, didn't reply.

Currently, the building enjoys a mere 1.1-star rating on its Facebook page. It also enjoys comments that are less than flattering.

For example, this from Tom Native: "Dropping in and giving you one star because you act like a bunch of Nazi's [sic] with the FB policy you are forcing down residents throats. Do you really think forcing people to like you is the way to go? I am guessing as this goes viral, you will be getting more bad reviews than you could have gotten good reviews."

I am guessing that Native might have a better feel for the people's ideas of friendship than the impression given by the building's owners.

Update, May 31 at 12:04 p.m. PT: Adds comment from the apartment owners' law firm.