Downsides of social media for injured workers

Let’s face it, many injured workers  are actively participating  in various forms of social media for example through blogging, Twitter-ing, and Facebook-ing and are unaware that there are some serious downsides to this practice. Especially since our blog’s recent DoS attack, I have been thinking a lot about this topic and I believe it would be helpful to share some of my informed thoughts for injured workers using or considering a dive into the social media space.

Downsides of social media for injured workers

I know I/we have published many articles about the dangers of using social media [under keyword “surveillance”] whilst on workers compensation, but I believe that it is necessary to raise the downsides of using social media over and over again.

Following the severe DoS attack on aworkcovervictimsdiary’s site, I have been discussing the use and the dangers of “social media” with many informed people, including other injured workers who blog (and have had their site copied by workcover] and experienced lawyers. One such a discussion with a lawyer stood out:

There is virtually no doubt that WorkSafe [or agent] tried to  bring down aworkcovervictimsdiary’s site trying to download information from it… maybe in contemplation of using it against you [owner, authors, contributors ] in potential proceedings. A lawyer colleague of mine used to work for the TAC and says they [TAC and WorkCover and insurance agents frequently download Facebook pages, entire blogs, websites etc… in case the “evidence” is later deleted.

Blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting etc really is forever

Even if you try to delete a single published post or an entire blog, a Tumblr site or Facebook page,  it’s really very tough to delete all the references to the work/articles/comments etc that have been reprinted, reformatted or placed in an archived cache online.

In addition to that as the lawyer we spoke to stated: WorkCover and insurance agents frequently download Facebook pages, entire blogs, websites etc… in case the “evidence” is later deleted – so basically what we are saying is that YOU (the injured worker) have very little to no control about the content of your social media (even if you were to delete it, chances are that someone else has already shared or reprinted you “old” material and chances are that workcover or their agents have been crawling all over your sites and tweets and made entire copies of it!).

Dis you know that the map of a single tweet  (see below) for example also exposes us, injured workers,  to the reality of the internet: much more is contained in any post or tweet besides its content, for example information about the time, the computer type, and even the location.

When your publish a thought, article, comment on a social media platform, you are writing in pen (make that a an indelible marker!), not pencil! And, sadly, there is the real potential to take prose out of context (sarcastic or not) which could then have significant legal ramifications for those injured workers, especially those under “surveillance” and those in a (potential) common law damages claim .

In my couple of months writing (well, dictating and having just about all of my blog posts actually physically entered for me,  in my case), I often think about this and wonder if the benefits I (and our co-authors) have garnered by sharing some of my/our [workcover] insights could be rendered mute by a single legal reference to this blog, or – perhaps worse – if somehow the contents of this site could be used against an injured worker.

Remember that just a few months ago the administrator of aworkcovervictimsdiary was threatened with a law suit for “defamation” by Allianz NSW and their lawyers. Obviously this was not about “defamation”, rather an intimidating attempt to shut is (authors, contributors, domain owner) up.

Whilst I/ we [authors] are not eligible for a common law damages claim, or involved in any court proceedings and certainly have nothing to fear from the insurance company or my/our employer; I am just imagining that – like some of you – =what if I/we was/were eligible, or in the midst of a law suit? What if I/we/you was/were currently under PI surveillance with a threat of cutting of my/our/your benefits (medical care or weekly payments), …

what if my case manager was snooping around in my/our/your Facebook, Tweets etc to find out “more” about me/us/you… so what if?

Is it going to bite you?

Perhaps you are blogging or tweeting or Facebooking just to socialise (fact is most of us, seriously injured workers, including myself,  are socially isolated); or maybe you do it to show your “strength.” Perhaps you do it because you want to stand up for what you believe.

Whatever the reason, injured workers need to rapidly wake up as  blogger/Tweeter/Facebooker. You need to pause every time you are about to post or tweet.

Social media is not a legally risk-free hobby!

Being a “blogger” I have learned to appreciate the power of social media. I have also learned that people who decide to attack bloggers/tweeteres who tell the truth -or who tell lies- risk being even more exposed themselves (this phenomenon has been dubbed “The Streisand Effect.”)

That’s because most bloggers to their homework and are careful to obtain background documents or refer  evidence to support their commentary.

Most of all, good bloggers, tweeteres, Facebookers consider their words carefully and know when NOT to publish as well.

So if you’re going to do this social media thing seriously, you need to realise that it does have risks that you might not suspect or be  aware of.

It would be good for YOU (all injured workers participating in social media) to review information offered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They have many helpful legal resources for bloggers there, new or old.

The Take-Home Message

So after all of this, what do I really think about social media for injured workers now? In our increasingly connected injured world, social media will be an asset for some, but a liability for others.

Be very very careful of what you write, think about it first, back up with evidence if you can and do not get trapped in the Streisand Effect; for example do not IMPULSIVELY reply to some comments, tweets etc – do NOT lose your cool, do not get angry or upset and always word your blogs, tweets, comments VERY carefully [phrase it in such a way that if a PI our workcover agent were to read it, it can not be twisted or taken out of context].

A good example would be an injured worker writing on Facebook page that “they spent all day moving house” – this is a very poor choice of wording and it can be easily taken out of context (by workcover et al) finding that “if you can move house, you can’t be as injured/impaired as you claim to be”. So, in this example you ought to write for example “I spent all day moving house – well, my family, friends,… actually all came and packed all my belongings in boxes for me, how kind…” (If that is true obviously).

Another example: ” I am cleaning out the swimming pool” – whereas you actually need to write it as it is: ” my son, whatever, is taking the bugs out of my pool and I am helping where I can, whatever”. Another common one ” I had a drink last night…”, whereas you are really saying that you had so much pain, grief, wathever that you drank half a glass of red on top of your painkillers” – you see workcover et al does NOT know anything about you (personal life) and can so easily misconstrue a “case against you”, for example implying that hey, as you were drinking, you must surely have been partying like hell, and how can you claim to be depressed…





Post predicated and entered by T on behalf of WCV –> as I am physically UNABLE to type posts, insert pictures, and dictate my posts from a couch with my arm supported by a sling and pillows, and it can take several days for me to dictate an article, post as I am in a hell of a lot of pain


24 Responses to “Downsides of social media for injured workers”

  1. Unthinking tweeters still haven’t got the message

    A GULF exists between social media and its function as a legal publication, the Bond University Professor of Journalism, Mark Pearson, said yesterday.

    “While we might be thinking in terms of a chat with mates at the pub or cafe, the reality is, of course, that we are all now publishers every time we send a witty little comment on social media,” he said.

    “And this carries with it all of the broader social responsibilities, both legal and moral.”

    Much has been said about those who flagrantly disregard public expectations of decency online, the so-called trolls or cyber bullies who deliberately incite outrage through venomous comments.

    But Professor Pearson, the author of Blogging And Tweeting Without Getting Sued, said that, as with every other new technology, coming to grips with the behavioural implications associated with Twitter was something users needed to adjust to.

    “Twitter and Facebook and other social media like YouTube are more often appearing as evidence in all sorts of court cases; workers compensation, family law matters, criminal matters, terrorism, security and, of course, defamation, so it is being used by the authorities,” Professor Pearson said. “But people don’t necessarily think about that as they send their wisecracks into cyber space.”

    His comments follow recent controversy over so-called trolling. The rugby league star Robbie Farah complained to the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, of highly insulting remarks about his late mother and it was then revealed Farah had posted an offensive tweet about Ms Gillard’s 50th birthday.

    Professor Pearson said while the large platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, could “co-operate better with the authorities” by responding more quickly to requests to take down offensive material or in deregistering the so-called trolls, people also needed to try to understand the scale these platforms operated on.

    “You are talking about millions of messages sailing into the ether every minute, and just by simple mathematics many of these are going to be offensive and have repercussions for somebody, and even these large-scale US-based operators would never be able to cope with the scale of that material,” he said. “So it comes back to education and personal responsibility with the authorities policing the most extreme cases of abuse.”

    A shift in how users thought of the medium was also needed, Associate Professor Axel Bruns from Queensland University of Technology said.

    “It is a public forum, potentially a very wide public forum,” he said.

    “If I am saying something to a friend at the pub I don’t expect that to be recorded, to be passed along because I understand my environment. In social media and most forms of online communication, in fact, what I say doesn’t just disappear the moment I say it, it is there, it leaves a trace and it can be passed on.

    “We are operating in an environment which feels private, but is very much public.

    “Because of the fact that these technologies keep changing and we are only really exploring how we might use them, what we might use them for, we tend to come to them with our old understandings, our old metaphors.

    “We are still coming at that with metaphors which are very much from face-to-face interaction, talking on the phone, or whatever, and these metaphors might make us feel very comfortable, but often they hide very important aspects of how the technology works.”

    So just like the September 1960 debate between the US presidential candidates John Kennedy and Richard Nixon changed the perception that television was just like radio, but with pictures, Associate Professor Bruns said we need to stop thinking about Twitter and other similar platforms as being like talking to your friends.

    “We have to stop trying to squeeze them into existing ways of understanding communication,” he said.

    “We have to think much more about them as they really are, as they actually work, so we have to understand they are something that is not just simply public or private but something in between, so the publicness of what you say, the reach that it has, can go from going out to a handful of people who follow me to potentially a very large audience of hundreds of thousands just by someone retweeting what I am saying. That is a very different environment and I think we need to understand it as that.”

  2. Christine, we are a family here & we all go thru stages of injury, pain & medication. You have more support than just WCV & Pauline. One day we may all get to meet face to face, but for now, most of us are not well enough to venture outside.

    Nothing happens or changes overnight, it takes time. I believe this site was attacked because together we are gathering strength, together we have a voice & together we have power.

    I believe there will be other attempts to attack or shut down this site because together we are making too much noise!

    So we all must continue to tell our stories, show the facts, prove the illegal actions of the WC insurance companies & most of all, we will stick together.

    In reference to the social media, I often use the ‘check-in’ facility on FB. Very time I am at the hospital having treatment & very time Im at an IME!

  3. Thankyou Pauline for your care. You& WCVD were all I had left. You are amazinging. I am not. I said something wrong & i was trying to express my gratitude. Everything is wrong no matter what I. Do. I’m without ANY friends, or family, as no one can handle/understand why I hAve been bullied,slandered,intimidated. From having a family to having no one in 15months. From being an injured worker proud of returning to work to total ‘dropkick’ I Realize now I’m a pain to all. For which I’m so sorry. I thought sharing was good. I was wrong. I am. Not as good as the members of this site. I am sorry. Very sorry. I didn’t. Know. Sorry sorry sorry

    • Christine, you didn’t say anything wrong at all – I just felt the need to explain that I would and will not ever be intimidated and that you can trust me, and us on this site, to continue our mighty fight against such a corrupt and sick system. Nothing will drop us to our knees, on the contrary, every assault, attack, bullying intimidation just makes me/us much stronger and even more angry, which in turns fuels mu/our crusade for a better place and for justice.
      You are not a dropkick, you are AMAZING and you are part of our FAMILY! When we don’t hear from you for a few days we worry and miss you. Don’t put yourself down, never. You have already shown what a mighty warrior you are – many people in your situation would have long dropped to their knees, given up or lost their sanity.
      You did not say anything wrong, my friend! I apologise for having perhaps misunderstood you and veered off track a bit- and I certainly apologise for not having replied earlier to your comment – my arm is a mess at the moment and I am having a hard time.
      Thinking of you

    • Christine, please stop putting yourself down. That’s the Workover’s job, so don’t help them. You’ve been on a wild ride to hell with all that workplace mobbing and then the relentless, mind-boggling bullying from Workover. Workover messes with your mind in exactly the same way that all bullies, domestic abusers and rapists do. If you’ve experienced any other form of abuse in your life, being in Workover will probably trigger all your past bad memories. So you have to deal with that as well as all the rubbish from the mobbing. You think that Workover is there to keep you from falling into a financial heap so you apply for their help, only to find yourself traumatised from your very first contact with them. The contradictions in the actions and words of the people who bullied (mobbed) you, and between the promise and the reality of Workover is what creates such a war in your head. I blamed and criticised myself for years afterwards. I didn’t understand why my colleagues and employers had turned on me and treated me in the ways they did. I thought I must be to blame for what happened. But, you know what, I wasn’t. The war in my head turned out to be an adverse mental condition, a health consequence of mobbing and bullying. So don’t apologise for yourself Christine. It’s not you, it’s the inhuman and cruel system we’re caught in.

  4. Should bazz be saying this…
    “oh mr conroy, I found out a third party excuse/ way of censoring my potential and current detractors” please make up some public propaganda to support my personal interests…

    Did someone steal Bazzas pacifier when he was a bub?
    Awww poor bazz there there
    After all he has done to poor innocent law abiding people and he can,t take a bit of factual criticism
    A profiler would have a field day with you, Im sure
    Was it bugs bunny who said
    “What a maroon”
    Come and live in the real world barry.
    no better still stay, right there …at arms length


  5. “O’Farrell wants to punish internet trolls.

    NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell says he will work with the federal government to toughen laws to punish internet trolls after footballer Robbie Farah copped abuse on Twitter.”

    Please read more here:

    • Ha! Should we write to Barry Boy and ask him to PUNISH workcover authorities, or their rogue employees,and their lawyers and insurance agents – all identified “internet trolls” illegally accessing, copying, trolling and attacking injured workers websites? And for leaving pretty nasty comments on our forum for example as well as on our “insult” page?

      • It is not easy for any government to suppress peoples’ voice. It is unconstitutional and therefore illegal.

        If they try to ban any website, then this information would be placed on massive billboards in every city.

        I hope they wouldn’t try to cross the limit or test our patience.

  6. I can confirm from cases that I have been involved in that surveillance of social media is used to gather evidence to be used in court and as part of a standard malicious tactic to discredit and blacken the complainant/victim. With regard to the attack on this site I believe it is a sign that the authorities feel threatened by the credibility and truthfulness of the information revealed in your postings and the fact that it is bringing victims together. I agree completely with your advice. Our only and best defence is always to speak and write carefully and honestly.

  7. completely agree with your caution guys but there is also another way to take this and that is to use your social media to ‘guide’ the investigators. a way to help us heal, to help us vent, to communicate the disgusting system we’re in.

    eg. recently when i was investigated i asked for a copy of the report. of course i have no idea if i received the report in it’s entirety or whether i’ve been investigated since but i did notice that a few of my creative posts, blogs, fb pages were found BUT NOT MY PAIN BLOG… the one that talks about my pain and anxt with this stupid system, the one i’m using to create awareness for my issue in hope of sparing others the 5.5 years i’ve lost.

    so, i didn’t want ‘my’ investigators to come across vague… i helped them along for next time they came by wtih this post on ALL my fb pages:

    this is a dedicated post to the investigators that recently conducted their surveillance on me. you seem to have missed reporting one of my websites to my insurer. it was the one about the hellish issue i’ve had over the past 5.5 years (you
    know the one you’re trying to ignore?) that also describes the hellish system i’m in and hellish people who work in it… like you! i’m going to leave this post with the link to my website on all my pages in case you stop by next time. i’d hate for you to miss it especially as i make the extra effort to always include notes for you in my posts. here it is lovies…


    • Soula, I LOVE the way you are handling things, you are outsmarting the suckers in a big way! Thank you for sharing your story and link – it is giving some interesting ideas.

      • thanks workcovervictim. there’s so much of this system that seems illegal to me. i thought of photographing the investigators and putting their photos online but i’m not sure we can do that … anyone know the rules there? we obviously can be photographed by investigators but can they be photographed? investigation either has to be done accurately or it should stop, especially when its used to portray someone as fraudelent. the fact is what the investigator and insurance companies are doing is fraudelent. where’s the legislation to protect innocent people from this horror? let’s investigate WorkSafe and see how they like it.

  8. Workcover are just another insurance company, but they have the added advantage of having a monopoly. They may seem like another government department that care about social issues, but don’t be deceived. They are just an Insurance company and perform all the tricks and deceits that are typical of insurance companies

  9. I can assure you that I (and our co-authors etc) are really NOT intimidated by workcover, nor their insurers and will NEVER be. That is why we took drastic action and referred our site to a secure private server, so WE can SPY on the bullies and those who want to shut us up. We have total control of who accesses our site and many insurers, worksafe and their lawyers can’t even access the site any longer (which means they cannot copy, download or conduct attacks on our server).
    However, this latest incident has thought us yet another invaluable lesson, which I/we obvioulsy pass on to our family (all injured workers) and that is the TRUTH that workcover will routinely download/copy your social media sites, tweets, whatever (to preserve the evidence) and possibly twist it out of context to hold it against you, no matter how innocent comment may be.
    This is the TRUTH – and I certainly want to make all injured workers aware of this despicable activity, so they can protect themselves as best as they can against those vultures who have nothing better to do than to find a way to make any injured worker’s life hell.
    The only reason the site has been a little quieter than usual is because of the hard work behind the scenes, we are still tweaking our server settings, still repairing dadabases and fixing things like our chat facility in the forum.

    Also I found myself in a tricky situation over the past few days with a severely dislocated shoulder, necessitating emergency department visits. Typing is as good as impossible for me (left hand only) and at the moment I am unable to sit for longer than 15-30 minutes as the pain becomes too severe in the arm whilst “upright”. I will tell you more about this latest incident as soon as I can.

    Remember that Erin Brockovich calls me the Australian Erin – Why? Cos I am extremely resilient and will never ever give up, whatever it takes.

    Thanks for your understanding and support guys! Whilst I am recovering you may want to send me your stories and experiences (via email) for publishing, or use the Vent! page and write some good stories, or tips and tricks. After all we are a big FAMILY and are here for each other 😉

    • Dear WCVD, I apologise if you thought I was saying you were being affected by THEIR OBVIOUS ATTEMPTS TO IMTIMIDATE. I was only trying to say I would do anything to help & that what you were going through was HIGHLIGHTING THE STRENGTH YOU OFFER so many as a role model. I apologise.sorry sorry sorry

    • Good luck with your next operation Lisa. I’d offer to help you with the typing if we could work out a way to do it on the net. I have good internet in my current house sit – here for next 3 weeks. Maybe Skype?

  10. They win AGAIN!!! The beauty & comfort of the interactions here gave me hope. They, YOU inspired us to be courageous. It is a known fact that BULLIES DO ANYTHING TO SHUT US UP.
    All the MEDICAL PSYCHIATRIC research INSISTS “pathway to healing is to SHOUT OUT, not die quietly as they punish you for an injury you DID NOT WANT.
    Empathy is only gained when we disclose the personal, allowing others to see THEY ARE NOT ALONE. Thousands of injured workers across the globe have gained from the open, TRUTH. Of the BULLYING injured workers have shared.
    Today, hearing that you, an amazing person in so many ways, is IMTIMIDATED by this recent BULLYING, is so OBVIOUS.
    For many months, you and all the injured workers @ WCVD, we’re my only source of support. Everyday, everyday, your tweets, stories, articles, comments have provided THE ONLY SUPPORT, a little old lady had.
    My heart goes out to you, as I cry tears for you. Without your incredible efforts I’m sure there are many who would be LONG GONE.
    Bullies ISOLATE US. Their methodologies are BRAZEN, THREATENING & CRIMINAL.
    Threatening a source of Psychological Support, for even one injured worker, is surely ILLEGAL? Let alone Dispicable?
    I am willing to stand by you in anyway. You can publish anything. My life was TOTALLY DESTROYED in 16 months. When I found WCVD, the bullies, workplace bullies, had NO CARE for the CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR ACTIONS. They were ONLY CONCERNED THAT NO ONE “ELSE KNEW.”
    Whatever I can do to VERIFY THE BULLYING/HARRASSMENT/INTIMIDATION and ILLEGAL PROCESS you , my ONLY psychological, and,social support are Subjected to, I will. Without you I would never have survived the isolation, &, continuing intimidation.
    To see you being BULLIED FOR ASSISTING SO MANY, is so obviously AN INHUMANE ACT for which the CONSEQUENCES are so Vast. Consequences I’m sure WE ALL WILL ‘STATE’ on your behalf.
    Always remember we choose to divulge, because YOU gave us HOPE. Xx

  11. This article is very true. Very, very wise advice. It wasn’t until a few months into my Workcover experience I was challenged with a small statement I said in the early stages of my claim. Even though I had nothing to hide my employer was taking notes and used this small piece of information. Twisted it to suit themselves. It was an innocent passing comment. The purpose was to refuse to take responsibility for a poorly constructed return to work program. This was done in a meeting involving a little gang. Including case manager and employer. After this I refused to attend any meeting without a support person. If harm can be made from a thoughtless innocent comment. Social media, articles without reference and passing comments can be twisted and adulterated. An utter field day. So true.

  12. I agree wholeheartedly with this article. I am very careful with tweets and facebook, in fact most of my comments are political. So if the insurance companies want to use my statements about how unfair O Farrell has been in court I would be more than happy to let them.

  13. Thanks for this information and the web sites, Lisa. I tend to open my mouth and shout loudly when I’m able. I figure I can do this because I have nothing left to lose but my life and I don’t think the Workover is taking out contracts on the lives of mouthy injured workers yet. If I had an income, a job to protect, I would be more careful. That said, I have to be extra careful on my bad days, to not allow identifying information about other players in the system to remain in the documents i load up here.

    • It seems you are very depressed. If you don’t mind, may I suggest you to involve yourself a little more with your family and friends. Don’t get disheartened and collect all your anger to continue with your fight. Once you accept you have nothing to lose, you start losing the battle. Remember, you are precious to your family and friends. So please don’t give up as yet.

      • thanks Phil. I started taking my anti-depressants again over a month ago, so I’m really not feeling tooo bad, except for when I get contact from the Workover. My family, and especially my beautiful 14 month old granddaughter are totally precious to me. Having nothing to lose was a reference to the fact that due to the Workover, I have already lost my job, my career, my mental health, and my home. There is certainly nothing more that the Workover can take from me other than my weekly psych consultations, and those I would fight for no matter how bad I felt.