Ex-Employee Sued $340,000 Over Twitter Account And What It Means To You

The New York Times is reporting (source below), that an Employer is suing an ex-employee over a 17,000 follower Twitter Account for $340,000. This has serious implications in courts deciding the value of a Twitter follower to a Brand and the company oversight of social media accounts.

Regardless of what the details of this Complaint are, its a major sign that companies need to take their social media accounts seriously. In this case it would appear that the company realized that a social media account has value much like a customer list. Your Social Media Accounts are PROPERTY. They are virtual online real estate. They have value to your Brand. Your company should be protecting its social media accounts with contracts and controls. Its also a note to quitting employees that if the company says you can have the account, as always get it in writing.

In The New York Times Article: PhoneDog Media declined to comment for this article 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 cnsidered property of PhoneDog Media L.L.C. We intend to aggressively protect our customer lists and confidential information, intellectual property, trademark and brands.”

“This will establish precedent in the online world, as it relates to ownership of social media accounts,” said Henry J. Cittone, a lawyer in New York who litigates intellectual property disputes. “We’ve actually been waiting to see such a case as many of our clients are concerned about the ownership of social media accounts vis-á-vis their branding.”

As a company you wouldn’t likely let an employee leave your employment, taking company property with them. The same is the case with your Social Accounts. In fact, AS these accounts are initially setup, legal contracts as to ownership and control etc. should be in writing and PRE-established. Tell me what you think in the comments?

Source: http://www.nytimes.com