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Published: Tuesday, 12/4/2012

Suit settled over value of Twitter followers

South Carolina company miffed over loss of readers to former employee

ASSOCIATED PRESS

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A South Carolina Internet company has settled a lawsuit with one of its former employees over the value of Twitter followers.

Attorneys for Noah Kravitz said Monday that their client had settled a suit filed against him by PhoneDog LLC, a Mount Pleasant website company that reviews mobile devices like phones and tablets.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but attorneys said Kravitz would maintain control of his @noahkravitz Twitter account, which has more than 23,000 followers. PhoneDog officials and an attorney for the company didn't immediately comment on the settlement.

PhoneDog sued Kravitz in 2011, saying that he cost the company thousands of dollars in lost business when he took 17,000 Twitter followers with him when he left. The company said when Kravitz resigned, he changed his Twitter name from PhoneDog_Noah to noahkravitz, keeping his 17,000 followers.

The company argued that the followers should be treated like a customer list, and therefore PhoneDog's property. In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco, attorneys for the website had said Kravitz owed them $340,000, or about $2.50 per follower per month for eight months.

In court documents, Kravitz said he had used the Twitter account in question mostly for personal musings about sporting events and pop culture and, after leaving the company, even sent out messages at PhoneDog's behest about the company's contests and giveaways. Kravitz said he sent such messages as recently as December 2010 and that PhoneDog only objected to his use of the account after he sued them in June for unpaid wages in an ongoing case.

Kravitz, who lives in Oakland, Calif., worked for PhoneDog from 2006 until 2010. He recently founded The Tabula Project, which his attorney said is a startup company that works on educational technology tools.

In a statement, Kravitz said he was glad to have settled the case and enjoyed the work he did with PhoneDog.

“In retrospect I'm sure we all wish we'd been able to foresee what was coming and negotiate specific terms ahead of time,” Kravitz said. “If anything good has come of this, I hope it's that other employees and employers out there can recognize the importance of social media to companies and individuals both.”



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