Man sued for keeping company Twitter followers after leaving

Leaving your job in the New Year? Make sure you read this first, as there could be some heated discussion over your Twitter account.

Ah, a new year. New prospects, new horizons, and for many, a new direction for their career. Well if you're starting a new job you might want to take a look at the case of Noah Kravitz before you leave.

Kravitz is being sued by his former company for keeping followers he attained in the course of his job, the BBC reports. Kravitz was working for US mobile phone news site Phonedog. He changed his username from @Phonedog_Noah to @noahkravitz when he left, but the 17,000 followers remained. Now, where's HR when you need them?

Phonedog is seeking $2.50 (£1.60) per follower, per month, adding up to $370,000 (£236,133). Ouch.

What's strangest of all about the case is that Kravitz said Phonedog had given permission to carry on using the account after he left. He told the New York Times the company let him make the account personal as long as he agreed "to tweet on their behalf from time to time."

He built up the 17,000 followers (since risen to over 23,000, proving popularity is a curse) during his four years at the company. Phonedog filed the lawsuit claiming the followers constituted a customer list, and that it'd invested "substantial" resources in building it. It's an alarming case that could set a precedent.

It said in a statement: "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. We intend to aggressively protect our customer lists and confidential information, intellectual property, trademark and brands."

Intellectual property solicitor Leigh Ellis said Phonedog would have a strong case, as the original account bore its name. "Let me put it this way, I'd prefer to be on Phonedog's side," he told the BBC.

Is it fair for Phonedog to sue? How will this influence future Twitter accounts? Let us know below in the comments, or over on our Facebook page.

About the author

    Joe has been writing about consumer tech for nearly seven years now, but his liking for all things shiny goes back to the Gameboy he received aged eight (and that he still plays on at family gatherings, much to the annoyance of his parents). His pride and joy is an Infocus projector, whose 80-inch picture elevates movie nights to a whole new level.


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