Chicago’s Horizon Realty Group Sues Woman For $50,000 Over A TweetJul 28th, 2009 | By James Lewin | Category: General, Microblogging
Horizon argues that Bonnen libeled the company with her May 12th tweet, which read in part “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon Realty thinks it’s okay.”
Bonnen’s alleged twitter account, abonnen, is no longer active. But, based on information in Google’s cache, it appears that Bonnen had 22 followers.
“The statements are obviously false, and it’s our intention to prove that,” said Horizon’s Jeffrey Michael. “We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization.” Michael added that the company has a “good reputation it wants to preserve.”
Sue First, Ask Questions Later
Horizon may be breaking new ground in public relations with its response.
By suing Bonnen for $50,000 over a tweet that was probably seen by a fraction of abonnen’s 22 followers, the company is bringing Bonnen’s complaint to tens of thousands of readers on Twitter, in blogs and in news stories that the situation will generate.
Instead of preserving the company’s “good reputation”, Horizon Realty is establishing itself as a “sue first, ask questions later” kind of company.
The kind of company that will sue you for $50,000 if you have something bad to say about one of their apartments.
If Horizon’s lawsuit goes forward, fixing the damage it will do to the company’s reputation will take a lot more than $50,000.
Horizon’s response looks like a textbook case of what not to do when faced with a new media PR problem. What do you think the right response would have been?
Update: Horizon has responded to the controversy over the lawsuit, saying that their lawsuit was part of their response to a class action lawsuit filed by Ms. Bonnen. (pdf)
Horizon Realty is now the top search result for Twitter lawsuit in Google.
Amanda Bonnen’s Twitter stream (Google cache) shows that Horizon was one of many targets of her complaints:
- Top five of worst flights ever. Never again spirit air.3:45 PM Jul 9th from mobile web
- All of these people eating McDonalds is making me want to hurl.12:28 PM Jul 9th from mobile web
- I can tell im on the right flight for fort meyers, the average age tends to be about 70.12:09 PM Jul 9th from mobile web
- Damn you Ohare and your 2hr security lines.11:25 AM Jul 9th from mobile web
- Whoever designed the train with the bi-fold doors was a duche.4:30 PM Jul 2nd from mobile web