Zestimates – Freedom of Speech?
I’m just a Realtor; but, I have an interest in American History. When I read the article from Inman on “Zestimates protected as free speech, Zillow argues in legal challenge“, I had to get my little history book out – ok THE National Archives and look it up myself.
First part goes over concerns that some of the State Conventions had of the Constitution:
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
The very first amendment is written as such:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I am at a loss to understanding the claim that Zillow’s Zetimates is an abridging the freedom of speech. There is no law against Zillow’s Zetimates. Can a consumer or property owner be upset by the values that Zillow is producing? Absolutely, I think that they can have every right to be upset. Do I think Zillow should stop publishing their information? Not unless direct malice or intent can be shown towards the degrading of that property owner’s value.
Here’s the trick. Right or wrong: I have the right to publish my opinion, which Zillow is claiming they are doing. However, my opinion being published does not necessarily mean I am protected by any consequences of what I write. Once I post this, you – the consumer will have an opinion of me. Good or Bad. I will suffer the consequences of my opinion.
Zillow – what about you? Can you suffer consequences? Why do you have to say that you are protected by Freedom of Speech? Freedom of Speech isn’t a shield to hide behind. Freedom of Speech is an Amendment to the Constitution that won’t allow a law to be written depriving (abridging) the freedom of speech. Zillow is not being deprived of their opinion. Zillow is being sued over Zestimate values that owners say are adversely affecting them. Hmmm… Consequences to an opinion.