The National Association of Realtors’ board of directors has voted to expand the trade group’s ethics code in an attempt to limit hate speech by its members, most notably in online comments and postings.

The changes, approved Friday, Nov. 13, mean Realtors can now be disciplined for work or speech related to real estate transactions as well as public statements made in personal social media postings.

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“Combatting and overcoming bigotry and injustice starts with each of us,” said association president Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co. in San Francisco. “Realtors took tangible steps to ensure we are held to the highest possible standard while providing a mechanism of enforcement for those who violate our new policies.”

Matt Difanas, head of the association’s standards committee that wrote the proposed rules, knows this isn’t a widely popular change and he welcomes “uncomfortable discussions” that include questions about infringing on free speech.

In an association video Difanas recounted samples from “the mountain of hate speech” by Realtors — from the use of racist and homophobic slurs not worth repeating in this space to one member itching to use his $1,500 rifle on, well, a vile racial epithet.