An online mobile news and reviews resource, PhoneDog, has filed a lawsuit against a former employee whom they claim absconded with 17,000 Twitter followers in its data base. What’s interesting is that the company is viewing the taking of names and a Twitter password as a trade secret or company intellectual property. We also see the issue as similar to one that plays out in other media: whether the tweets were a work for hire or does the tweeter have the right to contact those that he responded to?
- PhoneDog is suing for $340,000 in damages. It got to that number by multiplying the number of followers by $2.50 – a figure that the company claims as an “industry standard.” Others view twitter followers as worth barely 1 cent per follower.
- PhoneDog apparently allowed the tweeter to have access to the company account and password. When he left, he merely changed the name of the account so that the @phonedog followers now came to his personal account.
- Is the fact that his hand was @phonedog_employeename make it any different than a writer who has a byline saying that the magazine mailing list is his/her personal property.
- Posts should be monitored by a second or even a third person to ensure the messages are in line with the company image.
- Passwords should not be in the hands of only one person.
- Limit social media admin privileges to senior staff.
- Make it clear in employee contracts what is expected of them regarding organizational social media accounts when they are employed by you, and also when the working relationship ends.