December 28th, 2011
06:28 PM GMT
London (CNN) – Who owns a Twitter name and the followers that go with it? Such an obvious question, but suddenly one that has companies and lawyers scratching around to reach an answer.
It seems obvious if it's just your own name and you use it for purely personal purposes but what about if the account is also used to help promote your employer’s business?
Noah Kravitz posted tweets under the name @phoneDog_Noah but changed when he left the employ of PhoneDog which is now suing him for damages for the 17,000 followers, claiming they belong to the company. They are claiming $2.50 per month for every follower.
This has every one of us who tweets as part of our personal and working life scratching our heads and thinking about it. Who does have the right to benefit from my Twitter followers' names?
It raises questions. Are they following me because they like me? Or because I am on CNN? If I were not on CNN would they still follow me to wherever I might end up?
The British TV journalist Laura Kuenssberg moved from the BBC to ITV and at the last moment a deal was reached so she could take her 60,000 followers along too.
However these individual cases are resolved, the bigger, wider issue is that the corporate and legal world is coming to terms with the very fast moving social media blogosphere.
A universe where the old rules seemingly don't apply and yet - we have no real hard and fast new rules to follow. Companies are twisting and turning themselves trying to make sense of it all and not lose out.
I have always known that those who follow me obviously do so because I am on CNN and it is through my work that most of them came to know of me.
The fact they stay following me is because they like what they read, they enjoy the debates we have and they feel a part of what I am doing. So whether that makes them my followers or CNN's really depends on which side of the fence you sit.
In any event, I want more of you following me, to join in our community covering the world of how we earn and spend our money. @richardquest is where we can talk and debate.
By the way, PhoneDog is claiming $2.50 per follower, per month which, if I ever leave CNN and take all my followers with me, they could claim $170,000 per month. Good luck getting that from me.
So where do you stand? Where is your loyalty as a follower?