The outcome of a lawsuit filed in California may decide whether an employees' social media account is owned by their company or not.
According to an article on the New York Times, Phonedog.com, a mobile reviews and shopping website, filed a lawsuit against a former writer for allegedly ‘stealing' the list of followers he had on his Phonedog Twitter handle.
Noah Kravitz left his job as a Phonedog writer back in October 2010. His Twitter handle, Phonedog_Noah had around 17,000 followers when he quit. The company, however, asked him to maintain the handle and make status updates from time to time on their behalf.
Kravitz, who agreed to their proposal, started writing from a new Twitter handle called NoahKravitz, but retained the 17,000 followers from the other Twitter account.
Eight months later Phonedog.com filed a lawsuit, claiming the Twitter followers list was actually a customer list. The company is demanding damages of $2.50 a month per follower for eight months, which comes to a total of $340,000.
"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," said the company in a statement to NYT.