What Twitter’s Blue Check ‘Chaos’ Means for Reputational Risk

What followed was an army of “Twitter trolls” buying blue checkmarks for fake accounts to impersonate others, targeting defense and aerospace company Lockheed Martin, manufacturer Nestle and gaming company Nintendo.

Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly is one of them. On Nov. 10 at 1:36 p.m., a fake account tweeted that Eli Lilly would provide free insulin.

The company hit back at 4:9 p.m. with tweets and press releases of its own, but has already done some damage, with a reported $15 billion wiped off the drugmaker’s market value. It’s not alone — other impersonated companies have also suffered setbacks.

Musk will continue to pause the rollout of blue checks until late December. Half of Twitter’s 100 largest advertisers stopped running as of Nov. 22, including US insurance giant Allstate Corporation, according to an analysis by Media Matters.

‘Military-grade’ response to accelerating crisis

Nir Kossovsky, chief executive of Steel City Re, said: “The world has shown us that the speed at which an issue becomes a huge source of reputational damage is approaching the speed at which a country can be nuked.”

“[It would take] We’re approaching that response time with 40 minutes between North Korea launching a missile and hitting New York City, […] This is almost a military-grade response to threats emerging from various sources of global presence. “

To some, two and a half hours seems like a long time to respond to a fake tweet. However, there are reports that Lilly is trying to get answers from Twitter, which fired a large part of its 7,500 employees behind the scenes days ago.

According to Kossovsky, Lilly’s response needs to be viewed in the context of the heavily regulated environment in which pharmaceutical companies operate.

“They can’t simply announce things like Elon Musk and throw stuff out there; these are large organizations with very complex risk management structures and very complex regulatory structures, so without review, Nothing of importance can be published,” Kossovsky said.

“Any response that could have a short-term positive impact could have a lot of long-term negative impact, so everything needs to be carefully managed.”

Eli Lilly’s Twitter response

“Unite the Right Rally” clashes with protesters as deadly violence erupts in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017.

The incident, which led to the declaration of a state of emergency in Virginia, killed one person, injured dozens and led to the CEO of pharmaceutical company Merck quitting then-President Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council.

Merck CEO Kevin Fraser said in a statement at the market open on Monday, August 14, 2017: “As CEO of Merck, I feel a duty of conscience to object to the tolerance and extremism.”

According to Kossovsky, at the time Merck’s announcement was seen as a “phenomenal” speed of response.

“[It was] Incredibly, risk can be assessed, sociocultural risk can be assessed, decisions can be made, boards can bless it, lawyers can do whatever they need to do to make sure it meets all regulatory obligations – securities filings, etc. — CEO Kevin Frazier can make the announcement,” Kossowski said.

“[That was a] 40 hours of work – here we’re looking at two and a half hours, and even that isn’t fast enough. “

In Lilly’s case, “speed [of response] Because something complex and sensitive is extreme, but not good enough by new crisis standards,” Kossowski said.

Lilly declined to comment specifically on whether it expected to take any action against Twitter or was considering other steps. A spokesperson referred to a previous statement in which the pharmaceutical company said it was “strongly committed to ensuring patients and customers have accurate information about our medicines.”

“Lilly’s fake/parody Twitter account conveyed false information, and we will continue to work hard to correct this situation,” Lilly said.

Individuals should check its website for information about its medicines, accessibility and “affordability programs,” the manufacturer said.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

What do you think of Twitter’s new approach? Let us know in the comments.

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