Talking tech since 2003

We may soon find out how much a tweet or Twitter follower costs in dollar terms. An interesting lawsuit filed by PhoneDog Media L.L.C. against Noah Kravitz, a former blogger for PhoneDog.com, is expected to go to court next month. The dispute? Twitter followers.

While working at PhoneDog, Noah tweeted under the Twitter handle PhoneDog_Noah and over that period of time amassed a following of over 17,000 people. Now, despite coming to an agreement with PhoneDog that allowed him to keep the account provided he changed the handle (it’s now @NoahKravitz) and tweeted things occasionally that PhoneDog content, the company is suing him for $340,000 or $2.50 per month for each individual follower (for eight months).

Even though both parties parted amicably and Noah agreed to promote PhoneDog content on occasion, PhoneDog suddenly believes the followers should be considered a customer list and as such should be its property. The real issue now, in my opinion, is whether or not Noah signed up on Twitter because PhoneDog told him to with the intentions of building a customer list.

If Noah signed up on Twitter on behalf of PhoneDog then I think that account should be turned over to PhoneDog. However, if Noah signed up for Twitter himself and had been tweeting before working for PhoneDog I’m inclined to think he should be entitled to keep the account and the followers.

I’m a bit surprised this issue hasn’t come up before considering the amount of people on Twitter who use the company they work for in their Twitter handle, something by the way, which I never understood and now you can see why I’m against it. Nonetheless, this case will definitely set some kind of precedent regarding not only the rights of former employees and what is considered company property but also how do you quantify the value of an individual (Twitter) follower/(potential) customer.

(Via The New York Times.)

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