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Lawsuit to determine ownership of Twitter account after company exit

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Can you put a price tag on Twitter followers?

A pending lawsuit between the mobile phone news site Phonedog and a former employee may determine the dollar value of a tweet in a court of law. The case may be flawed, though, since the former employee appears to be much better at attracting Twitter followers than other Phonedog employees.

As previously reported by the Daily Dot, last year Noah Kravitz left Phonedog, taking his then-17,000 followers with him. Kravtiz has said he and the company agreed he could keep control of the account he created while there, @Phonedog_Noah, on the condition he tweet occasionally on behalf of the company. Upon his exit from the comapny, Kravitz simply changed the account’s name to @NoahKravitz and continued unabated.

Eight months later, PhoneDog sued Kravitz, claiming the account’s followers were tantamount to a customer list. The suit estimates each follower is worth $2.50 a month, equaling $340,000 in total damages.

@NoahKravitz is mostly a personal account: Recent tweets have been about a cold he’s fighting and basketball, plus occasional links to stories by Tech Buffalo, where he works now.

Since he left Phonedog, though, he’s amassed an additional 5,000 followers, bringing him up to 22,000. By contrast, PhoneDog’s official Twitter account, @PhoneDog, currently has only 14,600.

Given Kravitz’s large Twitter following, it would appear that his personal skill at using the social media service is a major reason why @PhoneDog_Noah had so many followers in the first place. Nevertheless, if the court finds in favor of Phonedog, courts will be disposed towards employers in similar cases.

“This will establish precedent in the online world, as it relates to ownership of social media accounts,” Henry J. Cittone, an intellectual property lawyer, told the New York Times.

Photo by netzkobold