Twitter Follower Suit Settled; Highlights Need For Clear Account Ownership Guidelines

Last November we told you about a tech news site suing a former employee for $340,000 to compensate them for the 17,000 followers he took with him after leaving his post.

Well, it appears the the tech company did NOT prevail, so businesses really need to create social media guidelines detailing who owns what – and they need to do this now.

And the fact that this made it to court should be enough for anyone tweeting for work to sit up and take note.

@NoahKravitz‘ Twitter, formerly going by @PhoneDog_Noah, had 17,000 followers when he left his job (at Phone Dog). He now has a bit more than 23k followers:


PhoneDog sued for $340k, claiming the “industry standard” for the value of a Twitter follower was $2.50 – and wanted to be compensated that amount – per month – for the eight months he retained the account.

We’re not sure we buy that valuation. And it seems the court didn’t either.

The Sacramento Bee reports that the “terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but attorneys said Kravitz would maintain control of his (at)noahkravitz Twitter account, . . .”

Kravitz said he had used the Twitter account in question mostly for personal musings about sporting events and pop culture and, after leaving the company, even sent out messages at PhoneDog’s behest about the company’s contests and giveaways. Kravitz said he sent such messages as recently as December 2010 and that PhoneDog only objected to his use of the account after he sued them in June for unpaid wages in an ongoing case.

In a statement, Kravitz said he was glad to have settled the case and enjoyed the work he did with PhoneDog.

“In retrospect I’m sure we all wish we’d been able to foresee what was coming and negotiate specific terms ahead of time,” Kravitz said. “If anything good has come of this, I hope it’s that other employees and employers out there can recognize the importance of social media to companies and individuals both.”

Kind of sketchy that the Twitter handle had his employer’s name in it and he changed it though, don’t you think?
Do you keep your personal and professional tweeting separate? And if not, are you and your employer clear about who owns your Twitter?

(Winner takes all image from  Shutterstock)

@MaryCLong Mary C. Long is Chief Ghost at Digital Media Ghost. She writes about everything online and is published widely, with a focus on privacy concerns, specifically social sabotage.
Publish date: December 4, 2012 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT