Condo Mold a Taboo Tweet Topic

Uptown resident sued for her Twitter update

Be careful what you tweet. Your 140 characters could potentially cost you a bundle.

In May, Chicago resident Amanda Bonnen tweeted a complaint about her apartment management company:

"@JessB123 You should just come anyway. Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay."

On Monday, Horizon Group Management filed a lawsuit against Bonnen, who, the complaint says, "maliciously and wrongfully published the false and defamatory Tweet on Twitter, thereby allowing the Tweet to be distributed throughout the world."

Bonnen's Twitter account has since been deleted, but she had 22 "followers"—other Twitter users who subscribed to her updates—when the account was active. Considering some users have hundreds or even thousands of followers, Bonnen's complaint to her relatively few subscribers would have likely been forgotten and gone unnoticed by the public in general.

However, in what is nothing less than pure irony, Horizon's frivolous lawsuit has given the short Tweet nationwide attention. In accusing Bonnen of giving them a bad reputation, Horizon has greatly injured themselves in filing the ill-considered suit, which seeks an excess of $50,000 in damages.

Many companies today use Twitter as a means of better and instant communication with their clients. For example, Comcast assists their customers and resolves complaints via their Twitter account, Comcast Cares.

Twitter is the social-networking and micro-blogging service that has taken the Internet by storm since it began in 2006.

Just about everyone can be found tweeting, including British comedian Stephen Fry, hosts Ellen Degeneres and Ryan Seacrest, actors Greg Grunberg and Ashton Kutcher, and yes even NBC Chicago.

Users tweet about anything and everything, including what they're having for lunch or why their bosses annoy them.

Unfortunately, Horizon Group Management doesn't seem to get the microblogging world and may have drawn more attention to themselves because of the fight.

Considering millions of people use blogs, microblogs, online video, podcasts, message boards and social-networking websites to air their grievances, it will be interesting to see if anything comes from this dispute over 21 words.

Matt Bartosik, editor of Off the Rocks next issue, owes most of his friendships to online networking.

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