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Twitter Followers: Company or Personal Property?

Twitter followersJim Roberts, one of the top editors at the New York Times, recently quit the Times and the debate ensued as to who owned his 75,000 Twitter followers. Roberts accepted a buyout for the followers, but the issue has still come under debate and speculation.

Twitter followers are a commodity in today’s social-media-obsessed society. One company valued each of its Twitter followers at $2.50, while another valued them at less than $0.01. Either way, followers can still be assessed some kind of monetary value, which causes a debate between companies and employees as to who “owns” them.

If you use a business Twitter account, or are beginning a job where you will surely create one, you should adhere to the following advice from CBS News:

Get it in writing. An employment contract is a standard practice, and a social media clause should be included. It should specifically state who owns your Twitter handle, your followers, and any other accounts you will be contributing to. This goes for other social media sites and blogs as well.

If you are the boss, you should setup a social media policy to be signed by all employees. Social media should be part of the job description for most industries.

Don’t turn over your passwords. If someone else has access to your account, then it is harder to claim that the account is solely yours.

Don’t share your account. If you do, then the account is no longer yours. It becomes a company or community account.

Don’t ask your employees to use their existing accounts. It will be almost impossible to differentiate personal followers from company followers if you do this.

Keep the personal off the account. This should be obvious: Keep your personal life at home. It has no place in the work environment and certainly no place on a public business forum.

Following these procedures can help you avoid a stressful litigation suit in the future.

Source: CBS News

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