When Chicago area renter Amanda Bonnen tweeted a complaint about her apartment management company last May ("Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay"), Horizon Group Management responded by suing her for defamation.
"News of the lawsuit spread on Twitter like brushfire," writes Internet Evolution's Pam Baker. "Rather than silencing the complaint, the action fueled its reach to the nether corners of Twitter and then, by extension, to Facebook, blogs, and mainstream news outlets. Certainly that was not the effect Horizon was trying to create, since they said the legal action was 'to protect our reputation.'"
"To make matters worse for the Chicago-based property firm, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Diane J. Larsen recently dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that the elements of libel were not met," Baker writes.
Baker suggests the lawsuit did far more damage to Horizon than Bonnen tweet ever could have -- and she notes that similar efforts by other companies, including Advances Equities and SoAct.net, are likely to lead to the same result.
"The lesson learned from the Horizon suit -- and likely to be reiterated by similar suits -- is that it is at best treacherous ground to confront a customer who is active in social media, and at worst it is brand suicide," Baker writes.
Click on the following to read the Internet Evolution article: Suing Over Social Net Complaints Can Be Brand Suicide