05/21/2012 12:28:00 PM EST
Who "Owns" Your Social Media Accounts? You or Your Employer?
There is a time bomb in your company that you had better defuse. This is true whether you are employee or employer, because when it blows, both sides will be out lots of time and money, including plenty in attorney's fees. Not that we attorneys don't want your money; it's just that some of us would rather get a little to prevent a problem, instead of a lot to clean it up.
The bomb is your failure to be clear about, or even consider, ownership of the business connections represented by social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. A couple of ongoing lawsuits, which I discuss in my presentations on the legal issues in social media, are examples of the trouble that you can avoid with a little attention.
In both cases, former employees (one was even the former owner) thought the social media networks (one on Twitter, the other on LinkedIn) built while at their old jobs belonged to them personally. The former employers thought differently. It wasn't the tweets, posts, pictures, etc. that mattered; rather the issue was ownership of the network, the extensive base of active business connections-fans, followers, friends, whatever-represented by the accounts.
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Read more posts about business law by Jim Thomas at his blog, No Funny Lawyers
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