Lawsuit – Are Twitter Followers a Protectable Customer List?

12.26.11 sued a former employee for theft of their customer list when his 17,000 Twitter followers went to his new Twitter name after he quit. The New York Times reported that Noah Kravitz was a writer for which "is a highly interactive mobile news and reviews resource that attracts a community of more than 2.5 million unique visitors each month." Until Kravitz quit in October 2010 he had 17,000 Twitter followers for his Twitter name Phonedog_Noah, and when he left Phonedog agreed to let Kravitz keep the Twitter name in exchange for his agreement that he would post Tweets for Phonedog from time to time.

Kravitz change his Twitter name to NoahKravitz and the 17,000 followers went with him. 8 months later sued Kravitz “saying the Twitter list was a customer list, and seeking damages of $2.50 a month per follower for eight months, for a total of $340,000.”

How can claim that followers of Twitter is a customer list which can be protected under trade secret laws? In order to be a trade secret in the US a company must be able to prove that the secret gives a company a particular business advantage and the owner has properly protected the trade secret.

Here is asserting that Twitter followers are customer list (a trade secret), however the details about Twitter followers identity are stored on Twitter. Twitter’s Terms of Service do not obligate Twitter to keep any information secret. As a matter of fact, if you search the Twitter Terms of Service the word “secret” is nowhere to be found.

This will be an interesting case to watch, but since 95% of all lawsuits settle without trial it is most likely the parties will settle the dispute and the Courts will not rule on this novel trade secret claim.

How could the facts in this lawsuit affect you and your Social Media activity?

The publications contained in this site do not constitute legal advice. Legal advice can only be given with knowledge of the client's specific facts. By putting these publications on our website we do not intend to create a lawyer-client relationship with the user. Materials may not reflect the most current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. This information should in no way be taken as an indication of future results.

Search Tips:

You may use the wildcard symbol (*) as a root expander.  A search for "anti*" will find not only "anti", but also "anti-trust", "antique", etc.

Entering two terms together in a search field will behave as though an "OR" is being used.  For example, entering "Antique Motorcars" as a Client Name search will find results with either word in the Client Name.


AND and OR may be used in a search.  Note: they must be capitalized, e.g., "Project AND Finance." 

The + and - sign operators may be used.  The + sign indicates that the term immediately following is required, while the - sign indicates to omit results that contain that term. E.g., "+real -estate" says results must have "real" but not "estate".

To perform an exact phrase search, surround your search phrase with quotation marks.  For example, "Project Finance".

Searches are not case sensitive.

back to top