@noahkravitz and PhoneDog Settle Twitter Follower Lawsuit

PhoneDog and Noah Kravitz settle Twitter Follower DisputeI previously wrote about Noah Kravitz being sued for his Twitter followers for $2.50 each by PhoneDog on December 27, 2011, My Interview with @noahkravitz (Noah Kravitz) – How Much is a Twitter Follower Worth?.

Thanks to Shawn Tuma who shared an article he wrote in the LinkedIn Law & Social Networking Group, I learned that the case has settled.  Both sides are being quiet regarding details of the case but it’s rumored that no money is changing hands for Twitter followers.

The Story

Noah Kravitz, who often goes by “Kravy Krav”, was a well-known reporter for the review website PhoneDog.  During his employment at PhoneDog, Noah tweeted away under the Twitter alias @Phonedog_Noah and had amassed approximately 17,000 Twitter followers.  When Noah stopped working with PhoneDog, he took the Twitter account with him and renamed it @NoahKravitz.  According to the New York Times, Noah and PhoneDog came to an agreement where he could keep the account as long as he tweeted some kind words about PhoneDog once in awhile.

Eight months later, PhoneDog sued Noah claiming that his Twitter followers list was essentially a “customer list”.  PhoneDog wanted $2.50 per follower, per month, which equaled a hefty sum of $340,000 US. I asked Noah during our interview if he had signed a social media policy with PhoneDog and he answered, “No. In fact, Monday after I officially left the company, they published my farewell post and video, both of which directed people to follow me @noahkravitz if they wished.”  

The lawsuit became a cause célèbre as it was the first time a Twitter follower was being valued and it brought up the question of who owns a professional Twitter account – the business or the employee.

Today

Almost one year later, the case between PhoneDog and Noah has been settled.  What can we learn from this sticky predicament? “If anything good has come of this, I hope it’s that other employers and employees can recognize the importance of social media… good contracts and specific work agreements are important, and the responsibility for constructing them lies with both parties,” Noah said in a statement.

Does your firm currently have a social media policy in place? If so, does it cover who retains ownership of business social media accounts? How will you enforce the policy? These are questions I get asked on a regular basis and I’d love to have your feedback.