Who 'Owns' A Twitter Account: Employer Or Employee?

from the there's-going-to-be-a-legal-fight dept

Venkat Balasubramani, inspired by Marshall Kirkpatrick, recently explored the legal issue over who "owns" your Twitter account: you or your employer. Most people signed up for their own Twitter account, but many have used them in connection to their jobs, and the issue that kicked off Venkat's discussion was the recent firing of CNN's Rick Sanchez, who had a large Twitter following, which he regularly tapped into as a part of his job at CNN. The summary: um... it's not clear. If CNN wanted to, it could try to claim some right to the account, suggesting the followers were in large part due to CNN -- but that seems like a stretch. To date, most companies have pretty much assumed that the individual "owns" the account. I can't recall any examples of someone being forced to hand over their "personal" Twitter account upon leaving a job. However, the fact that it's such a gray area suggest that we'll eventually see a lawsuit over this in some form or another. It seems likely that things like this are going to start appearing in employment contracts as well (who owns what...), but for now it's simply an interesting legal hypothetical...

Filed Under: accounts, ownership


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  1. icon
    fogbugzd (profile), 26 Oct 2010 @ 11:00pm

    Reasonable solution

    I suppose it is expect a reasonable solution to this. Like, a Twitter account in the name of a person belongs to the person, and an account using a company name or trademark belongs to the company or trademark holder.

    A person's name is important to them. If they go to another employer they take their own name. If employers don't want famous employees to take their followers with them when they leave, then the company should set up the account and require the employee to use it for professional purposes.

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