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Who ‘owns’ your social graph?

With all the time we spend on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest (the list goes on) our lives have become intertwined in more ways than we think. If we take recent court cases seriously, then soon our own social media connections could be “owned” in the future. It’s also becoming increasingly obvious how important information will be in the future.

Companies that have seen the benefits of using social media could increasingly go after their employees’ connections, especially after a court ruling rejected the claim by Linda Eagle that her former employer Edcomm prevented her from accessing her personal and critical contacts on her LinkedIn account. Doing so, she said, also made her ability to find work more difficult. Most of her claims were rejected. This effectively means that the contacts you garner at work belong to the company.

Eagles’ LinkedIn account password was altered by Edcomm after her departure, and her picture and details were replaced with the details of her successor. Her password was known to a former employee who had helped her update the account while still working there.

“It opens the door for employers to claim ownership of any social account — even personal accounts — because Eagle’s account was created under her own name. It demonstrates there’s a need for people to become much more educated about this,” said Bradley Shear, a lawyer who specializes in social media. This though is not the only example of your employer getting your friends in a divorce.

Following remarks he made on a program in 2010, former CNN television anchor Rick Sanchez was fired. Having been a very early “Twitter-er”, he had amassed a following of some 150 000. A legal fight was on the cards of who owned these followers, but was averted when Sanchez was told he can keep his list as long as he changes his Twitter handle.

In another case, in 2011 a publication named PhoneDog was allowed by a California court to sue former employee Noah Kravitz for the ownership of his Twitter followers. Kravitz has been denied a motion to dismiss the case, which is seen as a strong push for PhoneDog’s case.

In some companies, employees have no privacy rights over emails they compile at work even if they use personal email accounts. Therefore it can be assumed that Facebook and Twitter contacts are the sole property of the company.

There is a lot to consider when thinking about this. Many are saying that a “prenuptial” agreement between employer and employee will have to be made up. What about the contacts you bring into a company? Who do those contacts then belong to? It’s all a very comfortable and progressive marriage, yet the divorce that follows when an employee leaves could get very “Hollywoodesque”. It’s not impossible to think that employees have the ability and resources in such a situation to set themselves up for the future, potentially damaging the business they formerly use to work for.

Tweets and Facebook updates have shown to have a major influence in the US, as recently illustrated by President Barack Obama receiving a spike of 1.1 million “likes” on his Facebook page after the US presidential debate. The promotional value of this is unfathomable, considering that this kind of promotion is basically free, instant and affects a wide audience. Or rather voters in this case. It is therefore understandable, at some level, that businesses will be so adamant and warlike in keeping that information.

So where are we? A massive conflict of interest? What would happen if an employee gathers so many followers that they are responsible for much of a company’s revenue, and then decides to leave? Can a specific monetary value actually be attributed to the followers of a business account and how much is that value? Somewhere, someone is going to lose.

Yet this is an emerging concept in an ever-growing ever-changing and expanding market, and the possibilities are endless. To be honest we are still making up the rules in social media as we go along. This is just one of those rules that needs some attention.

Author | Stephan Lourens

Stephan Lourens
Born 20 years too early. Curses sometimes. Thinks too much. Believes plug-and-play is the best invention ever. If asked what he wants for his birthday he will say a gadget, then money. So he can go buy a gadget. More
  • john

    Insomniac aren’t making this game you retarded fool! Its Ready At Dawn!! What kind of pathetic games writer are you?! You should be fucking ashamed of yourself! Absolute idiot!

  • Rotaryb

    It was obviously a mistake. Why are you so hostile and angry? Does it affect you personally?

  • Ram

    Look, The IBT preview was barely a preview and Marty Silva didn’t know how to play the game. With the Escapist article, I’ve seen the controller layout, and it doesn’t seem clunky at all. I perfer pushing a button rather than smart cover of the likes of The Last of Us. Frankly, I has nothing to really worry about.

  • Jfdelman

    Actually is.

  • spideynut71

    LOL…good one.

  • Jfdelman


  • DarthDiggler

    10-20 minute demos can hardly ever give you a good feeling for the whole game.

    The game doesn’t release until Feb, gives them plenty of time to polish.

  • DarthDiggler


    The gaming news marketplace is saturated, so the audience expects A LOT and it should there are plenty of other entities doing news MUCH better than this. You can’t publish articles and expect to be treated as someone with expertise when you don’t even have the developer right for the title you speak of. This information is verifiable through Wikipedia so there is really NO EXCUSE.

    You don’t want this kind of scrutiny? Seek out a cottage industry. :)

  • DarthDiggler


    Sony exclusive titles generally score higher on MetaCritic than other console’s exclusives. Ready At Dawn were the guys responsible for bringing God of War to the PSP, they are definitely a talented studio and they have had the benefit of working directly with Sony Santa Monica.

  • DarthDiggler

    It’s already been delayed, doesn’t come out until February 2015, they have plenty of time to polish things up.

  • John Doe

    Damn, well stated. Gaming journalists are a joke. It’s sad when the reader knows more than the article is trying to portray. I can’t even estimate how many articles I read with headlines that stated “PSN Hacked” in response to a simple DDOS attack that wasn’t a hack and when Xbox Live and PSN have both gone down in the past year due to DDOS attacks.

  • John Doe

    Graphics are part of gameplay. The Order seems to have alot of gameplay. The problem is that MORONS are judging it as if it’s supposed to play like Gears of War instead of realizing that it’s nothing like it.

  • John Doe

    This has become disgusting. Just another day on the internet and just another f@ggot bashing The Order. THIS IS PROOF WHY YOU SHOULD NOT TRUST THESE LAZY REVIEWERS.

    Lets adress Marty’s dumb comment about the Thermite Rifle feelling different from the pistol. This actually makes sense. THATS BECAUSE IT’S A THERMITE RIFLE IDIOT. The pistol is shooting bullets with gunpowder so obviously it has recoil. The thermite rifle is shooting…. well… THERMITE IDIOT! These weapons are fictional so how would you know what they’re supposed to feel like anyways moron?

    Lets address The Escapist’s comment about it feelling cumbersome compared to Gears of War. Well if you haven’t noticed, REAL people don’t run around like guerrillas in Gears of War. Human animations in The Order are going for realism STUPID. Next, he made a comment about how he had to stay behind cover and wait for enemies. So tell me, if you were out number 4 to 1, would you be running from cover to cover while being shot at and pinned down? Real life doesn’t work like Gears of War stupid. God I hate casual fat gamers who only play Call of Duty and Gears of War.

    The constant comparisons to Gears of War is the problem.

    First of all Gears of War is a rippoff of Killswitch.

    Second of all, just because The Order is a 3rd person shooter doesn’t mean it’s supposed to be an “answer” to Gears of War. That is called a fallacy. From what they’re saying, it doesn’t even sound like Gears of War.

    Third, Maybe the problem is that they’re expecting this game to play like Gears of War when in reality, it’s not trying to be like Gears of War. And what is the obsession with Gears of War anyways? It wasn’t the first 3rd person shooter.

    All of this hate seems like it’s coming from Gears of War fanboys who are afraid The Order is going to surpass it or something. Fucking stupid. The Order doesn’t even have multiplayer which proves its not trying to be Gears of War. That is a good thing because Gears of War is GARBAGE. The characters and stories were garbage as well as the animations.

    I could go on exposing how dumb their criticisms are, but it would take WAY too long. lol

  • John Doe

    Usually Xbox fanboys try to downplay the graphics of Sony exclusives by saying, “well it has crappy gameplay”. Then when a Sony exclusive comes out and gets praised for how fun it is, the Xbox fanboys will say but the graphics suck and blah, blah, blah, blah… I’m a Microsoft bonersmoker. lol

  • Ivan Johnson

    Why are they comparing it to Gears of War? It’s a story driven game. Heavy Rain and Beyond 2 Souls. Didn’t have all that gameplay stuff but it still was rated high. Maybe that’s what they were going for. I want those graphics in it. Excited for this one.

  • Shootcold1

    No name webiste. It’s simple as that. Go to a real legit pure gaming website

  • Rotaryb

    I see what you’re saying, no doubt. I guess I’m just surprised that you’re THAT upset about it that you would attack the character of someone you don’t even personally know. I’m always down for scrutiny by all means, but personal attacks aren’t warranted. It makes you see less credible and I’m all about a healthy debate.

  • KingLOL

    “This has become disgusting. Just another day on the internet and just another f@ggot bashing” You have just described yourself and a multitude of people….good job.

  • Lead Faun

    Agreed, and it hasn’t been released yet! They could change it during the time from now to its release.

  • John Doe

    I’m not the one bashing The Order. I’m actually providing logic and reasoning as to why their reviews are flawed.

  • Truth

    Eat a dick.

  • pop

    QTE QTE QTE QTE. And Beautiful Graphics. Why so Butthurt. This is all it’s doing.

  • Sepp Salerno

    Please…Just please say they do, because this game looks beautiful, and conceptually it’s stunning

  • Recordable7

    Don’t let it get to you, man. People are unforgiving to even the minute things. If he got that angry over a mistake like that, just brush it off. He’s clearly the one with a miserable life. People on the internet seem to show their true colors, anyway.

  • Gears of war was story driven.

  • Danzo

    Why does everyone always say gears/gays of war crap gameplay?….when RE4 did this sort of thing first a lot better might I add….

  • RealHardCoreGamer


    The hate for the Order: 1886 has been raging ever since E3 last year…
    Xbots are jelly!

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