Which Tweets Are Yours, and Which Are Your Employer’s?

This past July, Phonedog.com lodged a suit in court against Noah Kravitz, a former employee, on account of his retaining @Phonedog_Noah, the Twitter account he opened and posted from while working at the company. In the suit, Phonedog alleges that the Twitter account in question is company property, ditto for its thousands of followers, and is also claiming damages totaling $340,000.

Kravitz managed the @Phonedog_Noah while employed at Phonedog and kept it, apparently with the company’s blessing, after exiting the company in October 2010. In a phone interview with the New York Times, Noah Kravitz says that upon leaving his post, the company requested that he “tweet on their behalf from time to time and I said sure, as we were parting on good terms.”

When pressed for comments by the same paper, Phonedog replied: “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. We intend to aggressively protect our customer lists and confidential information, intellectual property, trademark and brands.”

Legal brains are noting that the suit will set a precedent in the area of social media account ownership.