Twitter Lawsuit May Hold Future of Social Media In Its Hands
In December 2011, a court case was filed against writer Noah Kravitz who was being sued by his former employer for $340,000. What sets this lawsuit apart from others, however, is that it was over his Twitter account.
While working for reviews website Phonedog, Kravitz had built up his editorial reputation as well as his Twitter following which garnered over 17,000 followers. Kravitz and Phonedog parted ways peacefully, but Kravitz was taken off-guard when, a few months later, Phonedog came at him with this Twitter lawsuit, seeking $2.50 per month for each Twitter follower that he took with him which totals $340,000. Phonedog claims that the followers that Kravitz gained while at Phonedog are company property.
In a New York Times article, PhoneDog Media declined to comment about this Twitter lawsuit except for this statement: “The costs and resources invested by PhoneDog Media into growing its followers, fans and general brand awareness through social media are substantial and are considered property of PhoneDog Media L.L.C. We intend to aggressively protect our customer lists and confidential information, intellectual property, trademark and brands.”
While I’m not going to go into more details of this Twitter lawsuit, I do want to point out the two major takeaways and impacts that I see from this case which are:
1) Whether or not employee’s social media accounts are company property, and
2) If so, how much monetary value does a twitter follower have?
This case will establish a new precedent in the online world, as it relates to ownership of social media accounts and their value.
Are companies able to cash in on, and claim ownership of an employee’s social media account? If so, how does that impact employees who are increasingly posting to Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus during work hours for not only personal but professional reasons? Will taking away ownership decrease their motivation to increase their professional presence on the ever-growing social media platforms like Twitter?
What is your take? Should employees be able to take their followers with them when they part ways? How much exactly do you think a follower or a fan is worth? Chime in with your thoughts in the comments.