A company providing mobile phone information is suing its former employee for $340,000 after the employee took 17,000 of its Twitter followers with him when he left the company.

The crux of the case focuses on whether the followers on Twitter constitute a customer database. Difficulty has arisen due to the fact that Twitter is a public social media site and the ex employee’s Tweets are both professional and personal in nature. It is thought that the employer’s success may depend on whether followers on Twitter can constitute a trade secret.

Employers should ensure that contracts of employment provide restrictions on the use of social media especially due to the business opportunities such sites can now generate.