First Twitter Lawsuit and Twitter Privacy
Horizon Reality Group is the first company to place a lawsuit based on a Twitter comment (WTF?)
Amanda Bonnen was a tenant in one of the groups Chicago rental properties and Tweeted:
“You should just come anyway. Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment is bad for you? Horizon Realty thinks it’s okay”
Horizon Reality Group responded to Ms. Bonnen’s tweet with a $50,000 defamation suit. A $50,000 lawsuit to Bonnen who only had 20 followers.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the first Twitter lawsuit.
In my mind this suit is as bad as the suit when McDonalds was sued for having coffee that was too hot. When will people stop being so lawsuit happy and just deal with their problems.
The idea of being a responsible social networking company is to listen to your customers. The beauty of Twitter is that you can hear your customer and can respond accordingly. Responding to a complaint with a lawsuit isn’t exactly what I mean by “respond accordingly”.
If you put me in Horizon’s shoes and I saw that Tweet, my reaction wouldn’t be to contact my lawyer; I would contact the tenant. Horizon should have checked the validity of the complaint, and fixed it if necessary. This would have turned Bennen from an unhappy tenant, to one potentially impressed with her landlord.. Now she could have spread the news to her network about how quick to react her landlords were. They turned this opportunity for brand improvement into a very damaging situation. This is what happens when people get greedy.
From a technology standpoint this could be a very dangerous situation. If this lawsuit goes through and Horizon wins, it would change social media in a horrible way. If we have a Facebook page and say that we don’t like a product, could we be opening ourselves up to a lawsuit? Yes I know there are many requirements for a defamation case and that is an over simplified example; but think about it.
Gone would be the days when Twitter was used for input and helping brands improve and grow. Twitter would be scourged by lawyers constantly looking for their next big score. This would destroy Twitter and potentially social networking. It could send us into the dark ages of communication.
This brings me to another point; privacy on Twitter.
A co-worker approached me today and said they had to erase some of their tweets because they were “inappropriate”. Her tweets went along the lines of: “Holy sh*t I just saw (enter celebrity)”
I asked her why she was going to delete it and she said that it was unprofessional. Yes it may be unprofessional, but the beauty of Twitter is the ability to control your personal brand. Yes you could delete the Tweet and hope that no one ever saw it, or you could leave it and go on with your everyday uses of Twitter (conversations, information dissemination, education, etc). To me, someone who shows some personality, some flair, along with professionalism, and intelligence have stronger personal brands than those who censor everything they say.
I want to see who you are beneath your professional side and get to know you. If I like who you are, AND what you do, I am much more likely to hire you.
And, if someone didn’t want to hire her for her innocent swearing in her tweets; would she really want to work for someone like that?
So these two stories show us something that we should never forget.
Twitter is public. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want anyone else hearing. But at the same time be yourself and speak your mind (got your work cut out for you).
And hopefully this suit won’t win. If it does communications and social networking will change forever.
If this is ruled defamation, how many defamatory tweets have you made? Uh-oh….