Woman ruffles landlord's feathers on Twitter, sued for $50,000
Twitter presents the illusion that nobody is listening or cares about your rambling minutiae, whereas anybody on the lookout for a particular keyword or phrase can find you. Despite all we've written about businesses migrating to Twitter - to understand their customers and interact with them - for some, the internet remains a strange, dystopian future.
In May, a former tenant of Horizon Group Management in Chicago called Amanda Bonnen is claimed to have posted a message on Twitter which read:
"Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay."
Although Bonnen no longer lives at the property, Horizon is reported to have filed a lawsuit against her, claiming she "maliciously and wrongfully" libeled the company. Horizon is now seeking $50,000 in damages.
Given that Bonnen had barely posted 60 messages on Twitter and had less than 20 followers, it's unlikely the message spread any further than it would have if part of a loud conversation in the pub. Even if Bonnen's claim is untrue, Horizon have done far more damage by pursuing the story - it's everywhere. The backlash on Twitter has been spectacular, with hundreds of people now goading Horizon into suing them next. For example:
Spectacular, as I said. The reason everyone is getting upset with Horizon is as much to do with a quote attributed to them by the Chicago Sun-Times, as it is their treatment of Bonnen. The company has admitted it didn't bother talking to Bonnen before issuing the lawsuit - Jeffrey Michael, whose family runs Horizon stated:
“We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organisation”.
Gotcha. Welcome to a company that doesn't understand the internet, isn't interested in listening to the customer's side of the story, or realise how big a PR disaster it's created for itself.