Over the past several years, I have often mentioned the Kravitz case when I have spoken about Social Media, Policies, and the ownership of Social Networking sites. A brief history: Kravitz worked for PhoneDog, and his twitter account was @phonedog. He left, and changed the account to @noahkravitz. He took the 17,000 followers with him. PhoneDog had no policy about ownership of the Twitter account. After Kravitz left, PhoneDog sued him, seeking damages of $2.50 per follower, per month, or $34,000 per month. According to Daily Dot, the case recently settled, with the terms not being disclosed. The Daily Dot speculated that the reason for the settlement may be that a year ago, PhoneDog had 15,000 followers, and this has increased by 12,000 over the past year. During the same time, Kravitzs' followers have grown from 22,000 to 23,000. Kravitz did tweet that "We have reached an agreement" and "I'm like a honey badger in a hurricane". Although the details of the settlement could not be confirmed, Daily Dot quoted Mashable that noted "it sounds like no money is changing hands for Twitter followers."
Practice pointers. It is important for companies to have policies in place about who owns social networking accounts when they are used on behalf of the company. PhoneDog did not have any, and the result was an extended legal battle. Although no money may have changed hands as the result of the settlement, it is safe to say that the real winners were the attorneys, who were probably paid a large sum for fighting the fight. A simple policy that the Twitter account was owned by PhoneDog would probably have prevented the need for litigation. As we approach the new year, now is a good time for companies to review and revise their policies and procedures, to bring them current with the existing business and legal environment.