Tweeting on the job is becoming more than just standard; in some cases, it’s required by the employer. But what happens to a Twitter account after someone leaves a job in which he or she was required to tweet? Enter:  Noah Kravitz.

Kravitz is a former writer who worked for PhoneDog Media, and when he was hired, he was told to create the account @Phonedog_Noah and use that for professional purposes. In the eight months of his employment, Kravitz amassed a Twitter following of more than 17,000 people and is now being sued for $340,000 by PhoneDog Media for changing the name of his account to @NoahKravitz post-departure.

Where does the number $340,000 come from? That’s $2.50 per follower multiplied by the number of followers he collected (17,000), multiplied by the amount of time he used the account for PhoneDog Media (eight months). According to this suit, each Twitter follower is worth $2.50. But that isn’t the most important issue. Rather, the most important issue is who owns the Twitter account @NoahKravitz (formerly @Phonedog_Noah)?

One of the biggest issues with this case, however, is the fact that Kravitz and his former employer don’t even agree on whether he was an employee or a contractor. Depending on which he was, it could have an impact on how the courts determine this case. If he was a contractor, he was essentially working as a freelancer. Whereas if he was an employee, he was working directly for PhoneDog Media. There’s also a question of whether or not the company had a social media policy covering the use of accounts created for work.

Personally, I operate two separate Twitter accounts; I have my personal Twitter account and my professional Twitter account, @MikeTMProd. I set up @MikeTMProd a few weeks ago so I would have space that would primarily be for professional use. But I was never told to set this account up by TM. I did it on my own volition. It still begs the question, since I am representing TM with not only the content, but the name as well, do I really own that account? I like to think so, but this lawsuit could determine who the real owner is.

I am a firm believer that it’s important to keep your personal and professional lives separate in social media. How many stories have we read about people not getting a job or losing a job because of something an employer saw on Facebook?

Not a week goes by where we don’t see a new story about how controversial social media can actually become. Kravtiz’s battle with PhoneDog Media is just the beginning of where things could go. What do you think? Does PhoneDog Media own Kravitz’s account or does he?

(Photo credit: cbhdesign)

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