The New York Times | Technology & Marketing Law Blog | News Leadership 3.0 | Scribd
When a journalist leaves a news organization, who owns the Twitter account and followers he accumulated while working there? John Biggs examines that question in a New York Times story based on a lawsuit first reported in November by Eric Goldman. In the suit, technology blog PhoneDog alleges former staffer Noah Kravitz should have left his @PhoneDog_Noah Twitter account and its 17,000 followers with the company. Instead, Kravitz renamed the account to @noahkravitz and now has about 23,000 followers. The filing seeks $340,000 in damages — $2.50 per follower, per month.
Amy Gahran adds a smart take on this:
For many journalists, establishing their own social media presence, blog, or other digital media presence is an important professional asset that is tied to their individual identity. It’s as much a part of the professional value they bring to the table as their education, experience, and network of sources and contacts. … It’s probably not easily transferable to the news organization if the journalist and the news org part ways.
I discussed this issue in earlier post about a similar controversy when a BBC reporter took her 60,000 Twitter followers to competitor ITV:
Social media account ownership is complicated by many factors — who created the account, was it prior to employment, does the name include the media brand, was the account use primarily professional or personal? There’s rarely a clear answer unless a news organization and staffer get an agreement in writing, in advance, on what will happen to a specific account when a journalist moves on, which may be something your organization should do.
Related: PhoneDog’s former community manager said the expectation was that editors’ Twitter accounts “were their own.” (Twitter) || Earlier: Ex-CNN anchor Sanchez keeps his Twitter account, changes the name (Poynter.org) | Scripps tells employees to create separate “professional accounts” that “remain company property” if they leave (Poynter.org)