How much are Twitter followers worth? That's the question that will be asked by a Californian court after a former employee of news and reviews site PhoneDog took his followers with him when he changed jobs.

MadDog didn't take too kindly to this, especially as he changed the name of his account from @Phonedog_Noah to @noahkravitz when he left in October 2010. He had over 17,000 followers at the time, a number that has now risen to over 23,000.

PhoneDog wants damages of $2.50 a month per follower over a period of eight months - a total of $340,000.

The argument is over whether the followers actually constitute a customer database.

PhoneDog Media told the New York Times that "the costs and resources invested by PhoneDog Media into growing its followers, fans and general brand awareness through social media are substantial and are considered property of PhoneDog Media L.L.C."

Issues like these can only become more common. The BBC was criticised for letting nearly 60,000Twitter followers go when political correspondentLaura Kuenssberg joined ITV.

Laywers have warned that such issues need to be written into employment contracts.

Via the New York Times.