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US Company Suing Former Employee For Rights To Twitter Followers

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Twitter is becoming big business with many companies employing social media experts to try and increase their companies followers and in turn increase their exposure. But how much is one follower worth?

Well this is the question a California court has been ask to solve. A former employee of PhoneDog, a news and reviews site, left the company and took with him the 17,000 followers for their twitter account when he changed jobs.

PhoneDog obviously wasn’t to happy when the employee simply changed the twitter handle and banked the followers as his own. PhoneDog is seeking damages from the employee and wants $2.50 a month per follower over a period of 8 months – totalling $340,000.

PhoneDog’s argument is the followers are a customer database and therefore should be counted as part of the business and not the employees. Obviously current laws don’t really cover social media and that’s where the California judges with have to come to a judgement and in the process set a precedent.

PhoneDog Media told the New York Times that: “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.”

It’s not the first time that we’ve heard of this issue. The BBC allowed Laura Kuenssberg to leave the BBC and join ITV and in the process she took her 60,000 followers along too.

Lawyers have now warned companies that to safeguard there social media campaigns they should write clauses into employment contracts to solve the problem in the future.

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