Regardless of the type business you are engaged in, as an employer specific action should be taken to protect your valuable assets. Social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) are among those assets. A company’s social media accounts are becoming viewed as more important and valuable in the case of company acquisitions and mergers, stock valuation and due diligence for financial transactions. The purchaser, investor, etc. is going to want to know who owns the social media accounts and see written proof if the company claims this ownership. The question is typically whether the employee who creates the account and is the primary user is the owner or whether the employer owns the account.
There has been recent litigation over the matter of ownership of social media accounts and no doubt there will be more. Examples are Maremount v. Susan Fredman Design Group (employee starts marketing blog for company – employee on sick leave – employer assumes employee’s social media identity and continues blog – employee sues); Phonedog v. Kravitz (former employee refuses to surrender twitter account to employer); TEKsystems v. Horizontal Integration (employer-employee dispute over ownership of LinkedIn account).
And the moral is . . . clarify ownership of social media accounts in employment agreements and company policy manuals. While most employers today understand the importance of intellectual property, these and similar clauses in employment agreements need to specifically address ownership of social media accounts.