What happens when the company Twitter user quits?

Hopefully what is typical is not to be defined by this article recently in the Guardian:

A Twitter user is being sued for £217,000 by his former employer for taking his online followers with him when he switched jobs.

Noah Kravitz, a writer from Oakland, California, amassed 17,000 followers on the social networking site when he worked for PhoneDog, a website providing news and reviews about mobile phones.

He posted Twitter messages under the name @Phonedog_Noah, but in October 2010 he left the company, renamed his account @noahkravitz and took his following with him.

PhoneDog has launched legal proceedings seeking damages of $2.50 a month per follower for eight months, for a total of $340,000.

The company is arguing that Kravitz's list of followers constitutes a customer database and the valuation is an estimate of how much each follower is worth to the company.

The case raises questions about the value of Twitter to companies that are increasingly using the website to communicate with customers and promote their products.

Legal observers believe that if damages are awarded against Kravitz, it could set a precedent for assigning a commercial value to Twitter followers acquired in a business context.

For more details see Company sues ex-employee for his Twitter followers (by Robert Booth).


verify work history said...

This is a very difficult situation. I believe that Phonedog had no process in place nor regulations to abide by for the personal/work social media divide. I think all they should receive from this situation is a lesson in their policies.

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Liz said...

Why not spare the legal expense and just create a new account, start following the old twitter members and get them to start following the new account as well?

I'm sure their policies are much clearer now.

If the employee had a malicious reason to hold onto the account you might be dealing with non-compete issues - if indeed there was ever an agreement.

sales jobs said...

Probaly best to start a new account

Brenda Nelson said...

What a bizarre situation. It is sort of a tough thing to say that the person should be fined so much for each follower, I would be darn sure that each one was checked to make sure their account was even active and used, so many join, follow a bunch, then go dormant.
But certainly start a different account and get followers all over again, if a person is being paid to run a Twitter account for a company these rules should be set in place early on.
Great blog, enjoyed.

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