In what could become one of the most expensive tweets to date, a woman is being sued for $50,000 for a tweet complaining about the state of her apartment. Horizon Group Management LLC filed a libel lawsuit against former tenant Amanda Bonnen for her post which read; “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay.”
According to Horizon the tweet “maliciously and wrongfully” described the apartment.
There’s a lot about this case that makes me die a little inside, in particular the line from Jeffrey Michael, whose family has run Horizon for more than 25 years, in which he said “We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization,” as they never bothered to ask her to remove the tweet first.
If this makes it to court it will show just how clueless companies are at trying to protect their reputation. In this case the person in question had only a handful of followers and a limited amount of activity so the tweet would have been seen by hardly anyone. Whereas now it’s made the news all over the world and all over Twitter. Smart.
With Twitter, blogs, Facebook and all the other types of social media it’s impossible to stop people saying bad things about your company. No matter how hard you try it just won’t happen, and suing people clearly doesn’t help as now the news is everywhere and makes the company seem much worse than any tweet ever could.
For companies looking to get an understanding of social media, this case is a great example of how not to do it.