Former employee sued over Twitter followers
A former employee of phonedog is being sued due to his reluctance to hand over Twitter account details to his ex-employer. Noah Kravitz was employed to tweet for phonedog, but later changed his username when he left.
This means that Kravitz regained the 17,000 followers that he acquired whilst being under contract of the mobile news providers. So, where do you sit in this argument? Who owns the follower count – the employee (who does all the work) or the employer (who funds the task)?
Surely, the company owns the account?! I can’t even think of one solid reason as to how Kravitz can claim that he should retain his follow account even if he moves to a different company. Is it an ego thing? Possibly. I’ve encountered many faceless Twitterers in my time, who find it a lot more comfortable to rant and rave behind the comfort of a computer screen, but are uncomfortable when faced with a ‘real life’ confrontation. One of my Twitter pet-peeves, if I’m honest.
phonedog is now seeking damages of £1.60 per user, per month, which works out at a total of 370,000 US dollars. I can’t see how he can have any argument justifying his ‘stealing’ of followers from what was an asset setup in the name of the company. Mr Kravitz said that he entered into a verbal contract with the company that said he could keep the Twitter account providing he ‘tweets about the company time to time’ – something he should clearly have got in writing if he was that keen to keep his account going.
Mr Kravitz, no doubt, is the brains and driver behind the account, however he should have established with phonedog what was owned by him and what was owned by the company. If you’re conducting a task in work hours, I can’t see how results are then accredited to the employee? He may have thought he was doing all the work, which I’m sure he was – but unfortunately, that is business.
Why didn’t he – if he was the voice of the account – just set up a new Twitter account and inform followers that he was moving to a new one? He could easily have migrated his follower account across. Yes, he may have lost a few thousand – probably two thousand odd spam accounts with ‘Candy’ in the name somewhere!
Where do you stand on the issue? Who should own the account and followers?