Does your Twitter account belong to you? That is the question currently being decided in US District Court in the Northern District of California.
The very short version of the case:
The case was brought to the courts by Noah Kravitz. He was an employee of PhoneDog, a website devoted to covering everything digital. As an employee of PhoneDog, Mr. Kravitz “tweeted” as part of his social media job. He linked this account through his personal accounts keeping his followers updated on all relavant news, in his words, “melding of personal and professional which is why I’ve gained a modest following.”
When he left PhoneDog, they requested he relinquish his Twitter account, but he instead changed the “handle” on the account and continued to use it. Mr. Kravitz contends PhoneDog never asked for their account back.
Most at issue however, is when you use social media for both your personal and professional life, who actually owns those Tweets? Many social media users have “tweeted” for their employer via their personal account. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites have made claims that they own the material that is posted on their sites.
This case seems to be just the beginning of litigation concerning “digital media” issues that will have to be determined over the next few years; including creative property rights, intellectual rights, and privacy rights. It will also decide what belongs to employees versus employers. The case should serve as a reminder to all social media users to consider what they are writing on their pages very carefully before posting.