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July 29, 2009

Woman sued over 'malicious' tweet

Posted: 09:38 AM ET

A 127-character tweet about a moldy apartment in Chicago could end up costing @abonnen $50,000.

On May 12th Amanda Bonnen, who has since deleted her Twitter account, responded to a friend with the tweet, "@JessB123You should just come anyway. Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay."

@abonnen only had about 20 followers that directly received the message, but her profile was set to public, and Chicago-based Horizon Group Management discovered the tweet.

Chicago Now reports the company then filed a defamation lawsuit alleging Bonnen, "maliciously and wrongfully published the false and defamatory Tweet on Twitter, thereby allowing the Tweet to be distributed throughout the world."

Horizon is seeking $50,000 in damages.

If @abonnen's statement is determined to be false and tweets are considered a legitimate form of publishing, she could be held liable for damages to Horizon's reputation. But it isn't quite that simple.

Ars Technica explains some of the complexities:

There is much debate as to whether people's Twitter streams are more like blogs—which are increasingly being held to the same legal standards as regular media when it comes to defamation—or a giant chat room, where most people presume "anything goes." It may actually be somewhere in between, but the one problem with trying to hold tweets to a higher journalistic standard is the hard character limitation—it's difficult to back up your comments within 140 characters (or even within several 140-character tweets), plus links to sources or pictures of evidence.

Horizon owner Jeffrey Michael told the Chicago Sun-Times the company never tried to contact @abonnen about the tweet adding, "We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization."

Michael later said his remark was meant to be "tongue-in-cheek," and further explained his company's position:

No mold was ever found but her unit was one of several that experienced an overnight leak during roof repairs...

On June 24th, much to our surprise given her previous silence, Bonnen sued Horizon Realty Group, and we are currently defending this claim which, again, we believe has no merit. In conducting our due diligence into this matter, we identified Bonnen's public Tweet regarding mold and acted to protect our reputation.

Unfortunately for Horizon, the media attention surrounding this Twitter lawsuit will likely damage the company's reputation far beyond the scope of @abonnen's message to her 20 followers.

Do you feel tweets should be held to the same legal standards as other publications regarding defamatory remarks, or does the conversational nature of social networks release them from libel?

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Filed under: Internet • online news • social-networking sites • Twitter

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andy   July 29th, 2009 10:22 am ET

Horizon showed true colors when Mr. Michale stated "...we're a sue first...organization." IMHO – @bonnen also believes Horizon's claim is "without merit". I believe there is NOT a housing project in AMERICA that exists without mold – which makes @bonnen's tweet true. Even if samples / testing shows < .001% of spores it still means mold exists. Horizon would better position themselves in stating facts that exist for all homeowners/renters instead of going straight to litigation. I think I will steer clear of Horizon – not because of mold which is everywhere – but because the attitude is sue first. Who wants a "sue first" landlord anyway? Mr. Michael should have chosen better words – his were a poor representation of Horizon. Perhaps Horizon should sue him for his gaffe? LOL.

Chuck   July 29th, 2009 10:55 am ET

I think this "sue first" policy just bit them in the rear. Good luck @bonnen.

Joe   July 29th, 2009 11:07 am ET

I'd agree that his statement "we're a sue first.." will have a much greater impact on the image of his company than her complaint about moldy apartments.

This is a great example of what happens when stupid people are put in charge of.. well, anything.

julia Nunn   July 29th, 2009 11:20 am ET

And speaking of stupid people this whole compulsive reacting and reporting on every tiny little thing which occurs in your daily life (twittering, cell phoning and (yes I know this is) blogging has GOT to go by the wayside. It's simply absurd to me that everywhere I go people seem to be unable to browse for books, eat a meal, enjoy a garden center, without tweeting or phoning somebody else to comment on it. What happened to just absorbing events on your own for a bit? It's called processing and it's actually important for your mental health, so Joe's comment about stupid people was apt. I don't own a cell phone or one of those ridiculous things you tweet with and never will. When I occasionally do leave comments on news items it is because I have something to say about it, and it's not done compulsively. Spend a tiny bit of time ON YOUR OWN, folks, you might be amazed at what your own thoughts have to say!

jayh   July 29th, 2009 12:06 pm ET

First – lol at julia Nunn – I think you don't get it... Why take the time to comment on a news article with your attitude about social media??

And also BIG lol at Horizon. Now instead of 20 people who read a joke about Horizon, we all get to read about their attitude towards customers on CNN... this is called Karma.

John Smith   July 29th, 2009 12:37 pm ET

At first I felt that she should not be sued based on her comments, however when I reached the section stating she was in litigation against her apartment complex management, I changed my mind. Being that she was suing her apartment complex, she should have been cautious regarding any comments made toward the matter – public or private.

I'm afraid that these types of stories are going to occur more and more as people display their private lives on the net.

observer   July 29th, 2009 1:27 pm ET

Twitter is no different than a casual conversation. If you're in a park and comment on something you noticed, you should not be sued just because someone else happened to be listening in. This is a freedom of speech issue, and no company should be able to use a twisted, outdated law to muzzle their critics or scare others into keeping quiet. This is clearly a harassment suit since their case is completely without merit (Libel cases are almost impossible to win because the burden of proof is on the accuser who must prove that financial loss has been incurred because of the statement and that the person made statements that they KNEW were false) Any lawyer knows this so the only logical purpose for their suit is to try to scare the woman or muzzle her and to counter her own suit against them.

Freedom   July 29th, 2009 1:45 pm ET

So much for the freedom of speech.

Kev   July 29th, 2009 1:46 pm ET

WOW!!! Mr. Michael did exponentially more damage to his company's reputation than any tweet could ever do. I know I will remember their name in a negative connotation now.

Charliann   July 29th, 2009 1:52 pm ET

I believe everyone has a right to their opinions on what they want to say within the Internet or word of mouth! Whether it's publicly stated or behind closes doors, freedom of speech shouldn't be held within a lawsuit. "It's ridiculous!"

It seems to me, everyone is out for money and taking everything so serious in life. If each person would lighten up, this world would be a better place. ~Charliann from Cape Coral, Florida

Tim   July 29th, 2009 1:56 pm ET

I though in order to win when suing for defamation the party has to show that they "suffered harm". How did Horizon suffer harm (other than sticks and stone will break my bones but names will never hurt me). If one does NOT have to show they suffered harm I am suing my wife for telling everyone my feet stink!

A M Henry   July 29th, 2009 2:31 pm ET

@Tim what is it that Carlos Mencia said? "Sticks and Stones will break my bones but words will forever harm my inner child."

Dr. AtomicDoom   July 29th, 2009 2:32 pm ET

This is ridiculous! haha Twitter absolutely SHOULD NOT be treated as a legitimate form of publishing. It's random this comment thing. This is the kinda crap I'm throwing out as I complete my world domination conquest. 😀

Sammy Z   July 29th, 2009 2:59 pm ET

A M Henry, I believe Carlos Mencia's quote was, "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will forever harm my psyche."

Ted   July 29th, 2009 3:03 pm ET

The correct sequence of events (according to the article) is that she tweeted in May and then she countersued in June, so she was not in litigation at the time of the original tweet.

It's ridiculous that what appeared to be an off the cuff remark was treated with such malice on the part of Horizon. This would have been a great opportunity for them to shine in customer service or to at least contact their tenant to diffuse her comments but they took the low road. Shame on you Horizon!

Tigris   July 29th, 2009 3:10 pm ET

Andy, just because you believe that every housing project in America has some instance of mold growth doesn't necessarily make your statement correct. Be careful.

Donna M   July 29th, 2009 3:15 pm ET

I think email is private just like the postal service. It is a private letter from one person to other persons that they know.
Tweets, Facebook and other public forums are out there for all to see. Sure they are a persons opinions or ideas, but use your head. Someone that doesn't agree with you is gonna see it. And if you defame or put someone in a mental funk, they can come at you. It is public. THINK!
Here is a good subject for those kneejerk legislations our government loves to work on.

wolfgang   July 29th, 2009 3:27 pm ET

if it becomes a common practice that private comments – unintentionally published, by error, innocence or simply by mistake are then turned into a public matter by certain parties, then social networks may quickly turn into very poisonous anti-social instruments.

Will G.   July 29th, 2009 3:27 pm ET

So your average Joe-Schmoe's remark is being taken as defamation? So anything posted in a blog, tweet, or anything that can be viewed publicly is treated as if you're posting a big billboard on the side of the road?!

Well there goes freedom of speech and opinions on the internet. Honestly, they might as well sue if somebody was in a conversation with their friends and somebody who works for the company just happened to overhear a bad comment towards that company.

I think that the legal systems needs to set up more measures to protect the people from crap like this 'cause obviously some laws are in need of a revamp.

Leo   July 29th, 2009 3:39 pm ET

"Sue first and ask questions later kind of organization?" I'll be sure to stay clear of Horizon for THAT remark...

James   July 29th, 2009 3:56 pm ET

LOL, yea I think this lawsuit hurt their image more than the tweet.
Real smart guys, keep listening to those lawyers. They are the only ones winning in all this.

jjpies   July 29th, 2009 4:09 pm ET

I think its great how they make up these magic numbers like 50,000$ in damages.

Guy Foxwell   July 29th, 2009 4:16 pm ET

How an organization is perceived is "subjective" to the individual. If we are not free to express our true "beliefs" under the First Amendment, fearing unreasonable lawsuits from large corporations, what is the point of the Bill of Rights? Horizon should use this event as a training tool to reinforce the importance of good "Customer Satisfaction."

JFing   July 29th, 2009 4:43 pm ET

I COMPLETELY SUPPORT WHAT HORIZON IS DOING WITH THIS LAWSUIT!!! That isn't sarcasm either. If you pay attention to the article it says that the woman who wrote the tweet had sued Horizon realty when no mold was found. So basically, she is making a BS lawsuit against the realty company so the company made a BS lawsuit against her in return. It is simply to make a point that if you try to mess with our company when we did nothing wrong we will jack you up. Additionally the "sue first, ask questions later" line was pretty funny too. Horizon must be a fun place to work haha!

HelloGirlfriend   July 29th, 2009 5:25 pm ET

If only Jeffrey Michael had posted his "sue first" comment on HIS twitter page...

Josh   July 29th, 2009 6:35 pm ET

They're tarnishing their own image more by actually suing her. How is her calling the Better Business Bureau and saying bad things about them any different than her telling people how she's been treated? Does that make the BBB an organization that needs to be sued for the same reasons? Twitter actually makes that info more accessable sure, but it's people right to know what problems she's experiencing with them so they don't end up having the same problems.

Chris   July 29th, 2009 6:58 pm ET

Are we going to be sued for posting comments related to the Horizon story? Wait, should I have sued before I asked that question? Darn, I did it again. I’ll never make it in property management.

Is life enjoyable or just profitable when your first response is to sue before gaining knowledge and understanding?

Brandon   July 29th, 2009 7:24 pm ET

Twitter should not be HELD to the level of journalism!! What is said in a TWITTER should not have been brought public by Horizon To begin with! People who read it, will prob not even think twice about it, but move on. I bet not even 100 people knew this TWEET even happened, but NOW, horizon brought it to the public attention and then stated they are a "Sue First, Ask Questions Later Company", Just goes to show that HORIZON is just in it for the MONEY, then they will find an excuse for it later. Horizon would have been just fine letting the TWEET slip away into people's memories.

Mike Welch   July 29th, 2009 7:41 pm ET

The thing that I find most interesting in this entire ordeal is how this one tweet is labelled as libel. Since the account was set to private, an audience has the ability to view the tweet, had the account been set to private would it have thus been labeled as slander instead? Plus if it was private than Horizon's never would have come across the statement. Does setting an account to private enable you to freedom of speech? Because clearly Bonnen was expressing an opinion.

allen   July 29th, 2009 7:47 pm ET

What a dumb move to sue over a tweet.

I've never heard of Horizon group before, but now I hold a negative view of the company as money hungry in that (1) they over-reacted to a tweet and are suing for $50,000 (how did they even come up with that figure?) (2) his "tongue-in-cheek" comment makes me view him and his company as the kind that are willing to take advantage of any situation in order to make a buck. If these two assumptions are true then I wouldn't doubt that there was mold in the apartment, not paying to properly take care of leak is a great way to cut cost!

Michael Lentini   July 29th, 2009 10:11 pm ET

The company that filed the lawsuit against this lady will never see a dime. I have problems with two companies and created web sites using that company name so it looked like their website. There are rulings all over the US that say you can put any thing that is true on a site as long as you do not have any paying ads on it or make any money from the site the courts have rules it cyber gripping.

Here is one ruling Note: U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the use of this type of gripe site as free speech in accordance with the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act ("ACPA"), 15 U.S.C. S 1125(d).

Do a Google search on "cyber gripe" you will find many state rulings that say it's just like you telling a friend but it's on line.

I have created two websites over the years against two companies that screwed me when what I bought was not what I paid for. Both companies refunded my money and I sold them the sites back that I make in their names.

Companies today do not protect themselves from anyone doing this. The companies just take there and that's it. when for $20 or less a year they could protect themselves.

Example I had a problem with Reno Harley Davidson their site is I put up a site called and had it listed to come up when ever you typed in reno harley in a search my site would come up telling the world about their bad service and how they screwed up my bike.

So this lady needs to look around it's just called cyber gripping and she is protected by law if she just told the truth about something that happened to her.

ConcernedCitizen   July 29th, 2009 10:28 pm ET

Ok, first of all, two words: First Amendment. People should be allowed to say what they want without worrying that a company would sue them for saying bad things about them

Judy Bryan   July 29th, 2009 10:43 pm ET

My thoughts and opinion might be out in left field, but hopefully the judge in this case uses twitter and will know that her comment even though open to the world would have only allowed others to view her post (other than her 20 followers – WOW) if they had been searching for the following keywords: moldy, apartment, horizon realty. I have to wonder exactly how popular those terms really are compared to the press Horizon Realty is now getting with their suit. Nice going Horizon Realty.

Horizon – Seems as though you need a PR firm that knows the difference between a managing a crisis and creating one. If you have a PR firm, fire them.

Barney in Cal   July 29th, 2009 11:28 pm ET

I will say what I want, when I want, to whomever I want, where I want.
I will think what i want about whatever I want where and when I want.
I will do what I want when I want, whenever and wherever I want.

I just won't publish it on the internet, or a blog, or in a book, or on a napkin.
I won't tell a friend in a park, or on a bus.
I won't think out loud, or in a crowd.
I won't wear anything, or do anything, believe anything, or read anything, or write anything, unless the Church, or the Government, or the Lawyers so it is okay first.

I still have the first amendment, so that is good... right?

Barney in Ca.

FutureApartmentDweller   July 30th, 2009 12:39 am ET

When I graduate from college and go apartment-hunting, I will make sure to steer clear of "Horizon".

A "sue first, ask questions later" organization probably has crappy renovations anyway.

Zim   July 30th, 2009 1:10 am ET

Wow, a sue first organization eh? THATS the kind of people I want to deal with.../sarcasm. But seriously, sueing over a tweet? That's a losing proposition for them, the proper thing to do would have to ignored it completely, or contact her directly like a responsible organization.

AlexP.   July 30th, 2009 1:28 am ET

One Question:
Where is the legislation to protect #1 on the Bill of Rights!? A fat lot of good it is to have a law if its not upheld


If you ask me Horizon defamed themsleves more than Bonnen with her 20 followers and an offhand comment. Horizon looks like they may be doing more damage to themselves than she could've ever single-handedly accomplished. Congrats Horizon on making yourselves look like complete d-bags. You've now joined the well publicized ranks of corporate swine.

ADV   July 30th, 2009 2:18 am ET

The question here is whether Twitter is considered a legitimate media.

Tweets are considered public statements which (believe it or not) is on a different standard than casual conversation. Public statements of any kind are subject to scrutiny by the parties involved. If they don't like what you say, legally you can be sued. I'm not a lawyer, so don't quote me on that.

Then again, I think this is a misapplication of the First Amendment. Sure, freedom of speech is perhaps the most important thing in America, but freedom does come at a price. The First Amendment isn't broken, but the human application of it is perhaps misdirected. When one exercises freedom, one must also prepare to receive the repercussions.

In my humble opinion, this is a classic example of misinterpreting the First Amendment. What you relay in private is private. In real world internet messaging application, that would be Instant messaging in a private chat room. What you make public is public and thus can be legally tried in public court of law. Twitter comments, especially those posted in public areas, are thus considered public statements that the original writer has to bear responsibility for its outcome. (On the same note, comments made here are also considered public statements and therefore suable should libel charges get thrown about.)

What ever happened to thinking before posting/speaking anyways?

Jeremy   July 30th, 2009 2:38 am ET

Twitter should use some of its millions to help defend this lady and help set a precedent that twittering is not "publishing."

But this is Chicago and it's horrifically corrupt. It may have to go to a higher court eventually.

And by the way, any of you saying anything negative about the slumlord Horizon here can be sued under their logic. This forum is "publishing", is it not?

Robert   July 30th, 2009 2:56 am ET

OR, she made her comments private, but Twitter screwed up and reset them to public. Happens all the time on my Facebook account... maybe Horizon can go after Twitter.. deeper pockets to try to pick for a litigation-based company.

derik   July 30th, 2009 5:45 am ET

Horizon Reality _really_ seems to be admitting that they engage in harassing counter-suits against customers they have a dispute with.

The legal basis is ice-thin, they didn't bother to contact her first, and they ADMIT that the entire thing resulted from doing a background check on someone because she was alleging breach-of-contract.

Would YOU do business with a realtor knowing that if there was an issue with them in the future, this was how they'd treat you?

anders   July 30th, 2009 6:48 am ET

i hope this runs its course on the people's court. that would be superb. they could even get those smart yet fictional folks from csi: miami to come and check to make sure there is actually mold in that place. either way i think all involved should probably see some heavy jail time...

mehanchan   July 30th, 2009 7:37 am ET

1st amendment stricken!

Sue-e-e-t   July 30th, 2009 8:28 am ET

Is it possible for Horizon employees to sue the company's owner?? Only a sue-first organization could figure out a way to do that!

Sue-e-e-t   July 30th, 2009 8:37 am ET

I would love to see this case in court, here is how the conversation would go:

Mr. Michael, were you really being "tongue-in-cheek" with your comment? If so, dont you think @abonnen was also being "tongue-in-cheek" with her comment? If not, then you really do operate a "sue first, ask questions later" organization. Case dismissed!

TE Carter   July 30th, 2009 8:43 am ET

In our neighborhood, there is a 30 foot high pile of dirt that was created about 3+ years ago by a developer hauling in dirt. Why? Unknown. I was sued for $31,050,000 (really) for blogging that the pile of dirt "besmirched" the landscape. Strong words, right? At the time 70 people read our blog. Five days after the suit was served, nearly 500 people read the blog. I also created a parody of the famous Hollywood sign, and put it on a photo of the dirt pile.

Eventually, the guy lost – after appealing twice to the Virginia Supreme Court. For details on the case, go to the Citizens Media Law Project site ( and search Woody v. Carter.

Good luck, @abonnen.

Love It!   July 30th, 2009 9:57 am ET

How about this. We all Tweet about how Horizon has over reacted about this whole deal. They can't possibly sue all of us right?

I love how they have created more negative press then the Tweet itself ever could. The best part is that I'm sure they don't even realize they have. They probably still think they are in the right.

Rome   July 30th, 2009 9:57 am ET

Google "mold is everywhere" and you'll see page after page stating just that. In addition, as some have said here, how are they going to prove that they suffered from this 127 character "tweet". Lastly, how does anyone label something that is 1) 140 characters or less 2) called a "tweet" and 3) posted on a site called "Twitter", a legitimate form of publishing? Nothing about it sounds serious.

gary   July 30th, 2009 10:20 am ET

What happen to freedom of speech? About 8 years ago I was house shopping and a realtor tried to sell me a home that was listed with a well. But it was only a hose under ground running to a near by creek. I reported it to the housing commission and heath department of what the broker was trying to get away with. If twitter had been around then I would have posted it there too. I feel I have that right to inform others. If this lady gets sued it means we have no rights.

BC   July 30th, 2009 11:06 am ET

tweeting isn't journalism. enough said.

LX   July 30th, 2009 11:08 am ET

My dear Jeffrey, the mistake of suing and then making that stupid comment will cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars (yes, legal fees ARE expensive my friend). Plus the corporate reputation damage you have caused to Horizon - probably what will hurt you the most. Let's say you win the case against @abonnen, $50k won't do much to get you out of the hole. I think you are a complete AH. Focu on getting mold removed instead of spending time on Twitter.

Anon   July 30th, 2009 11:23 am ET

Well the "sue first" comment hammered the nail into their coffin I believe. Pretty sure I will never be doing busisness with these people.

Shaughn   July 30th, 2009 11:30 am ET

Ok, I hope and pray that this company Horizon NEVER EVER EVER gets another shred of business. My hope is that someone would stand outside their company offices and picket them with signs saying they are abusing the legal system by filing frivolous lawsuits in an effort to make a buck. SHUT THEM DOWN...stop doing business with them and then pass laws against filing stupid lawsuits that clog up the courts!

Michelle   July 30th, 2009 12:38 pm ET

People need to be more aware of what they say online. With the internet, there is no permanent deleting and there is no privacy. Stories like this remind us that although we may not have many followers on Twitter everyone can read what we are saying.
Michelle Chun-Hoon
CKR Interactive Intern

Shawn   July 30th, 2009 12:59 pm ET

What happend to freedom of speech?

Charles   July 30th, 2009 2:33 pm ET

Everyone needs to stop saying their opinion. You might end up say you don't like something, and then you maybe sued. Win or Lose, if nothing else a Lawyer will end up making a lot of money.

TweeterBeeter   July 30th, 2009 3:28 pm ET

I think tweeter is dumb, and anyone who can claim "This will spread around the world!" with 20 viewers who don't even know how Horizon is, then it even dumber.

Hoxie   July 30th, 2009 3:30 pm ET

Sue first, ask questions later.

Wow, that sure sets a positive outlook for everyone who might have dealt with this company. I'm sure this lawsuit and the true but dumb comments of Horizon owner Jeffrey will cause more than $50,000 in damages. In fact, I hope this company goes bankrupt!!!

Jo   July 30th, 2009 3:49 pm ET

Horizon Realty – Business must be bad for you to be suing a commoner. And I don't your business is sinking because of @abonner's 20 followers. Its pretty pathetic to try to bully money out of people to feed your starving greed. Karma will SURELY get you on this one.

AlexP.   July 30th, 2009 5:24 pm ET

Love It has inspired me to engage in a twit-protest against these swine. Wait til' everyone on twitter hears how the are suing a fellow twitterer for her an offhand comment. I bet they'll have a lot more problems with this factual information than they ever would've got with her alleged "defamation". Now if you'll excuse me I've got flames to fan.

anton   July 30th, 2009 5:44 pm ET

Sued because of a tweet what a joke!
We live in a free speech world!
Europe America...

That someone makes a tweet to someone else over molding [company horizons group] lol..It s crisestime we have the creditcrises.How far will companies go till they over rule everything.

The computer is a free speech techology machine.
I see twitter as a private space. with companies not to be allowed to be on it] Only companies that be on it for artists and festivals and sports should be allowed.

That a CEO wants to see 50 000$ hardcash is just insane.This company can better say nothing.

That this person has left twitter was a good choice.Because that company cant sue this person anymore.

I hope this problem ends

Tony   July 30th, 2009 5:47 pm ET

Oh my, this is really ridiculous! You can tell the people over at Horizon are some real geniuses. "Oh, that tweet is defamitory, because 20 people are reading it. So lets start a lawsuit so Hundreds of thousands of people can read about it on" Well I will definitly steer clear of these people. If they are willing to stoop that low over a tweet claiming their business was hurt then I'm inclined to believe there really was a mole problem. They sound like the kind of people who would let one fester. Unbelievable!

Of course they don't have a leg to stand on. If they did, Microsoft would have had a field day years ago suing half the planets population for defamatory statements written in blogs, articles, tweets, bathroom stalls, you name it. For crying out loud, I'd be bankrupt a thousands times over for some of the post I've written about various companies. Most companies know that it is much more cost effective to just take care of a disgruntled customer rather than sue them.

Also to some of the statements about watching what you say on public forums. I say bollocks to that! Free speech is free speech wether you write it or say it. I'm not willing to budge an inch on that because the second we start tolerating these bully tactics then all is lost. The internet has saved me thousands of dollars simply through reading reviews on products and businesses. Ask yourself this; what happens when people become to scared to share their experiences with certain products and companies for fear they'll get sued?

Every piss poor customer service experience is automatically kept between the customer and the company and never see's the light of day. They continue to get rewarded with new customers to abuse and no one is the wiser because if you tell you get sued. I certainly don't want to live in a world like that. So to answer the question no twitter isn't journalism, and even if it was, so what, its why we have freedom of speech.

Paul   July 30th, 2009 5:47 pm ET

If she's liable for her tweet – you're all liable for this posting, so be careful what you say about Horizon, Ms. Bonnen, and any others you might think to express an opinion about. If we're not free to express our opinions then we're not really free.

Also, He said "they sue first" as a joke. Poor decision? Probably, but for the record, Mr. Michael – I laughed.

Tony   July 30th, 2009 5:47 pm ET

Its funny really, Horizon brought hundreds, if not thousands, of times more bad publicity to themselves by bringing this to a lawsuit.

20 direct followers reading a message vs. the potential millions who may read a news site?

Tony   July 30th, 2009 5:54 pm ET

Another interesting note is that if you are to search for Horizon Realty now on Twitter, instead of finding that one obscure comment you will find dozens if not more negative tweets about them now.

Mike   July 30th, 2009 6:15 pm ET

The lesson to this story is to boycott Horizon. Where do I send my $$ to help Amanda Bonnen.

Freedom of Press & Freedom of Speech   July 30th, 2009 6:49 pm ET

Leaky roof = Mold.
Twitter = Public
Public is governed by Freedom of Speech and of Press.
Defamation = Lying.
Opinions aren't lies.
There WAS a leak.
Leaky roof = Mold.
She was not lying.
Horizon Realty were irresponsible.
They wasted her time and damaged HER image now by making this public.
They DID defame HER.
She could sue them for damages.
I would settle for a free house of my choosing.
The End.

mm   July 30th, 2009 7:36 pm ET

I never would have heard of Horizon if not for the news article where they declared their stupidity to the world. Mr. Michael did insurmountable damage to his organization’s public image. Should I ever encounter this company, I will run far far away and have no business dealings with them and their “sue first, ask questions later” mentality. Horizon reminds me of my HOA, NN Jaeschke here in San Diego. NNJ is an unbelievably inept organization, completely mismanaging many things.

Blake   July 30th, 2009 10:18 pm ET

This is stupid, she was saying something to her friend, its getting rediculous that people can't even say something on the internet without getting in trouble for something, let alone in person. If she would have said it over the phone to her friend it would have been no different except the fact that the company wouldn't have found out about it. So this lawsuit is basically implying that you can't bash anyone or anything, whether or not if you are trying to make a joke, tell someone a story or give someone a negative review. The next person to be sewed will be the movie reviewers for giving a movie a bad review lol!

Michelle   July 30th, 2009 11:50 pm ET

Horizon realty has mold in all their apartments.. They are aware of it and they love it!! Horizon also kicks puppies. And Horizon faked the moon landing!!

whoops.. Horizon, please don't sue me! Ask questions 1st!!

Matt   July 31st, 2009 1:44 am ET

"We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization" is 11 words, 52 characters (no spaces), and 62 characters (with spaces).

Good job Horizon owner Jeffrey Michael in less than 140 characters you single-handedly financially damaged your company more than any occupant of your facilities ever could. You should get a lawyer to protect yourself from yourself. I tip my hat to you gov'na!

Matt   July 31st, 2009 2:23 am ET

Post Script-
A word of advice: Jeffrey Michael, next time try bitting your tongue or you may end up kissing your cheek good-bye; like say in this case.

Of course I mean any and all of my comments, for the rest of my life times infinity plus one, in the most “tongue-in-cheek" sort of way because that is the "catch all" that allows us to be held blameless for our comments and actions...apparently.

Kevin Archer   July 31st, 2009 2:36 am ET

I do have a twitter, but stopped using it. Basicaly it's facebook without the facebook.

Anyway on topic, I despise it when any entity throws such frivolous lawsuits at innocent people.

I hope this media coverage runs that company to the ground.

Mark   July 31st, 2009 12:12 pm ET

And the jagoff statement of the year goes to Jeffrey Michael. 2 first names, what a surprise.

Dea   July 31st, 2009 12:24 pm ET

Horizon sure tanked their reputation with this silly lawsuit. It's a 127 word message! What on earth would they do if Blogger decided to write about them. Which will happen I hope. What a bunch of jerks.

dadler   July 31st, 2009 7:58 pm ET

Im not sure i should comment.....will what I say here be held against me in a court of law? @bonnen has deleted the message....I think Horizon should move on. Punishing people for expressing their emotions is going to create fear and limit freedom of expression. People, there are bigger fish to fry!

Anthony Ingersoll   July 31st, 2009 9:13 pm ET

What in God's name happened to free speach. Is it now getting to where we cannot voice our opinions. I do not know ;enough facts on the story at hand, but I do know as an American we have the right to free speach and to speak our mind. Are we going to allow one person to shut everyone up? I should hope not. But yes I share the opinion that most of my fellow internet users do. Let the company die and run to the ground. It goes to show you that greed is a powerful enemy when it comes to our daily lives and freedoms. Good luck and God speed in this lawsuit.

Neil   August 1st, 2009 7:29 pm ET

Systematically destroying your reputation across the planet with just one sentence.

The whole world now completely distrusts your company and the way you treat your customers.

It takes a real gift to shoot yourself in the foot this badly on your first attempt.

Well done.

Mark   August 1st, 2009 11:51 pm ET

Freedom of speech...NOT IN AMERICA!!!

Spence   August 2nd, 2009 10:45 am ET

It sounds like Jeffrey Michael's "tongue in cheek" comment about suing first and asking questions later may be more to the point than anything else. They may be suing because they really are a heavy handed organization, and the person that posted the tweet about mold may just be getting pummeled because they use their money to abuse the people that make the mistake or doing business with them.

I'm feeling like the Amanda Bonnen is probably the real victim here, and I hope the jury (if it comes to that) sides with her and against what appears to be a predatory organization.

Scott   August 2nd, 2009 1:55 pm ET

There are a lot of company's monitoring Twitter. A company name with #fail will get their attention and get you direct service, not a lawsuit. Stupid people, well said.

Orin Rowe   August 3rd, 2009 3:18 am ET

Does "having a conversation" mean no one is responsible for telling a lie anymore?

Kurt in Ca   August 3rd, 2009 2:34 pm ET

Verbal abuse is no different nor less harmful then physical abuse. Apply the same penalties (Fines, Suits, Terms, Punishment) to any written abuse as you would a person jumping from an alley and clubbing a child to death. And then let's see how freely some of these criminals in the blogosphere attack their victims.

ken colin   August 3rd, 2009 3:32 pm ET

1) Keep your communications private – as it should be. Why do you need to "Tweet" any personal communications???
2) As for Horizon, they displayed the typical ridiculous American solution to everything: lawsuit.
3) Good for you standing up to them with your counter-suit. Sad to think that's the only way Americans can straighten out their problems but it probably is.

Pam Toll, Park Forest IL   August 4th, 2009 12:17 am ET

I do not Tweet.. but have seen it. I say YEAH! about time some internet electronic bullies are put to task publicly! all this internet use people believe is so anonymous they have become public nuisances and bullies. and its getting out of control~ I note this is a civil suit because our law makers have not protected us from various internet use abuses..
And law enforcement has their hands tyed as to not being able to arrest perpetrators who abuse the net! Good for them! Id like to be on that jury!

JK   August 4th, 2009 3:15 am ET

This company has definitely done more damage to their organization with this lawsuit than the Twitter post ever could have. I would never have assumed that Twitter post was factual, it sounds like a silly joke between friends that may or may not have been true. I certainly wouldn't have judged the company based on that post. Who wants to do business with a company that would bother to sue someone over such a benign comment? “We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization.” <-Sounds like a fun place, thanks for the warning.

Nunya   August 5th, 2009 3:01 am ET

Horizon- I got an PR Idea.........? Drop the lawsuit.... DUH!!

Alexander   August 5th, 2009 1:50 pm ET

julia Nunn July 29th, 2009 11:20 am ET
And speaking of stupid people this whole compulsive reacting and reporting on every tiny little thing which occurs in your daily life (twittering, cell phoning and (yes I know this is) blogging has GOT to go by the wayside.

The Troll has spoken: you should heed your own advice.

Actually this is about fear tactics, and even if this case goes nowhere it puts the fear into people. True capitalism as it is, like it or not its here to stay.

She does not have the money to fight, for the company the PR is nothing, seen things like this brings a tear to my eye of how much fun it is to rule over people, can't wait to finish my Law school and get into the fun, after all its not like people will fight back, most americans think they are middle class but live from paycheck to paycheck, life will be good.

JM   August 5th, 2009 1:57 pm ET

“We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization.”

Hahaha... in other words you are a greedy company!

This is just a stupid cash grab – had they not pushed forward a lawsuit this would have never made the news at all.

Freedom of Speech   August 6th, 2009 2:20 am ET

Horizon owner Jeffrey Michael Sucks!

Have your lawyer find my lawyer ******!

dfwmom   August 6th, 2009 8:01 am ET

Suing an individual for $50,000 in retaliation for an offhand comment, is excessive use of force.

On the one hand, twitters can have a large audience, and with that larger audience, comes larger responsibilities. There should be some recourse for victims who are threatened or defamed.

On the other hand, free speech must be protected, and David deserves some protection from Goliath. If Ann Coulter and other commentators can say things that are defamatory and false and threatening, which they regularly do, then why can't some ordinary woman-on-the-streeet? Because, of course, Ann has an office full of attorneys to defend her, and the woman-on-the-street does not. Ordinary citizens are easy targets for rich public figures and giant corporations, and therefore ordinary citizens should be protected from bullies. Unless our government is willing to provide an office full of attorneys to defend each citizen against bully corporations in order to provide fairness in our justice system, there should be restrictions on corporations using excessive force against unequal opponents. The damage to Horizon was minimal, compared to the damage that Horizon is attempting to do to this poor woman who was just chatting with her friends.

Horizon has free speech, as well, and can use it to respond to the woman's statements, and that would be the appropriate response. I I were in charge of Horizon, I might want to think twice before encouraging an in-depth discussion of it's leaky roofs, and whether or not they resulted in mold, but it's their call.

People do need to exercise some common sense. This discussion should have been between two individuals. People are very foolishly broadcasting personal conversations in public. Such behavior has always had unfortunate consequences, and this is yet another example of that phenomenon. Twitters and blogs daily provide an endless source of rope for people who are looking for a way to hurt themselves, as has been proved, yet again.

chris   August 6th, 2009 4:47 pm ET

Mr. Michael has just ruined his company's reputation more than any mold can ever ruin a house. He has defamed its company's name more than any tweet can ever attempt to do.

DEMO   August 9th, 2009 12:20 pm ET

Bottom line is nothing is free in this sad country anymore...that includes the freedom of speech! Rules and laws do not matter unless it is defending the rich man or a business.

brett   August 10th, 2009 6:07 pm ET

Just so everyone knows, there is mold EVERYWHERE in nature. Inside, just is. if you test for it, you will find it. As to twitter....who cares...face it...we are not THAT important, one REALLY needs to know what stupid thing you are doing or thinking right now

Dave in Arizona   August 10th, 2009 7:26 pm ET

So if I write on the net that McDonalds made me fat, McDonalds is going to sue me? People who blog and tweet, set up MySpace pages or comment on their Facebook – they aren't publicists. They're people expressing themselves through an online medium just as they would in person.

Freedom of speech., freedom of expression. Neither the government nor corporate America have any right to punish us for speaking our minds.

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