Opinion | Twitter’s Handling of ‘Fake’ Accounts and What That Implies About the Company’s Risk Management Strategy

By: | December 14, 2018 • 3 min read

Joanna Makomaski is a specialist in innovative enterprise risk management methods and implementation techniques. She can be reached at [email protected]

Just imagine on an unsuspecting day you are walking into the office through the parking area. You notice a poster is hung on every passing pillar and post in the parking garage. This poster contains an enlarged picture of you, your phone number and horrible untruths and lies about you. Colleagues walk by and realize it’s you on the poster and give you looks of disdain and disapproval. HR is waiting at the door. They want to speak with you. How would you feel?


Sadly, a dear friend of mine just recently experienced something similar. Their experience inspired this column.

My friend did not see posters; they saw vile posts online. My friend was made aware by their HR department of abhorrent and offensive tweets being posted from a Twitter account with my friend’s photo, name and personal information. These posts were being made for months with the express intention to cause harm and disparage.

But there was a problem from the outset. My friend does not use Twitter. Never has. They do not even know how to use Twitter.

Someone was impersonating them and was getting away with it for months. My friend reported the situation to Twitter and after investigation, the fake account was suspended. Even with the exonerating action by Twitter, my friend felt that damage was done. Their reputation was tarnished. Tiny seeds of doubt about my friend were unfairly planted.

When we set up a Twitter account, we enter into a contract with Twitter. Twitter-users must follow rules: “In order to protect the experience and safety of people who use Twitter, there are some limitations on the type of content and behavior that we allow,” so says the Twitter User Agreement.

Twitter rules do not allow you to engage in hateful conduct, share people’s private information without permission, impersonate someone or create fake accounts. That is reassuring to read; nonetheless, my friend’s impersonator did all of this for months undetected.

Twitter admits they do not monitor users: “We do not actively monitor users’ content, and we do not edit or remove user content except in response to a Terms of Service violation or valid legal process.”

It appears that Twitter is not really watching. Have they abdicated their duty of oversight to others? Or are they worried that first amendment rights would be threatened if they did act?

Twitter also tries to protect themselves by including a limitation of liability clause. Paraphrasing, it says that, by hook or by crook, Twitter will only ever be liable for damages costing up to $100.

I repeat: One. Hundred. Dollars.


So, what should be the duty of care owed to users? How should non-users be protected? Should Twitter take ownership of authenticating their users? Verifying user legitimacy?

It appears they can with the Blue Verification Badges program. The badge lets users know that an account of public interest has been authenticated by Twitter.

But wait, according to a note on Twitter’s website: “Please note that our verified account program is currently on hold. We are not accepting any new requests at this time.”

What happened?

With Twitter being in the spotlight daily as the host service to known-fraudulent robot users and maestros of political mayhem, I am disappointed to see this note. Twitter seems to be veering in the wrong direction — away from upgrading their oversight and risk management and running straight into the cross hairs of certain liability. &

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.


That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.


Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]