Social media channels like Twitter are great venues for venting, but our gripes often go unheard. Not so for Arizona State University graduate student Arijit Guha. He took to Twitter to complain about the limits of his health insurance. The reward for his rants: Aetna will cover “every last penny” of his treatment for colon cancer.
Guha initially went online to raise money for his treatments after reaching the $300,000 lifetime benefits on his student health insurance plan. But he eventually engaged Aetna chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini (@mtbert) on Twitter. Bertolini argued policy with Guha at the outset but ultimately vowed to work to “fix the system” from the inside.
“I am glad we connected today and got this issue solved,” Bertolini wrote. “I appreciate the dialog no matter how pointed. I’ve got it and own it!”
Dog’s best friend is a man with a Twitter account — at least when the pooch is lost. The information network helped reunite a Jack Russell terrier named Patch with his owner Deidre Anglin, after the dog took a ride on the Irish Rail.
After Patch’s 20-mile ride from Kilcock to Dublin, word of his arrival at the last station quickly spread across Twitter when Irish Rail posted a “Lost dog!” tweet and a photo. The tweet generated more than 500 retweets over 32 minutes, and Anglin saw it.
Irish Rail later tweeted a reunion photo of owner and pet (above), and Anglin shared snapshots of Patch on the way home.
Lyle Denniston, a journalist who has covered the Supreme Court for more than a half-century, doesn’t even use Twitter after briefly giving it a try last year. But his name will be all over the site today as the court announces its decision on the constitutionality of President Obama’s healthcare law.
Denniston is one of the rare few whose reputation has earned him a Twitter hashtag — and rarer still considering he is an 81-year-old journalist for a relatively obscure blog that on most days is read primarily by lawyers. His fans hope to make him popular enough that the #teamlyle hashtag starts trending.
Ohio teenager Joyce Grendel has much more class than Mike Stone, the Minnesota teen who invited porn stars to his high school prom. When Grendel’s prom date backed out at the last minute, she asked her Cleveland Browns hero, Joe Haden, to escort her instead — and he drove her in style in his white Lamborghini.
Haden also tweeted photos of the night to his 86,500 fans, including the one in this post. “I knew her because she tweets me a lot, and she’s been a really good Haden Nation supporter,” he said. “All my autographs, all my signings, she always shows up.”
What’s a teenager to do when he gets to an autograph event and realizes he doesn’t have the fat wallet necessary to enter? Tweet about it, of course. Chris Newton did, and New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes came to the rescue of Newton and his three friends (@Dylan_DiNatale, @hunt_30 and @Blackewalker11) in a green Porsche.
Spikes was at the event the four young men wanted to attend. When Newton tweeted about their dilemma by mentioning Spikes’ Twitter handle, Spikes told them to look for him in his car. He quietly gave them each $100, but the story eventually made its way to Twitter — and then the traditional press.
When Lauren Lane’s plans to wed Daniel Welch were threatened by the collapse of the British events company organizing her big day, she turned to Twitter for help: “Please RT to help our story! £4.5k stolen with 6 weeks to go - need a little help from our twitter friends.”
Lane’s online appeal worked, as even two celebrities retweeted it. Companies offered Lane and Welch free or discounted services for the wedding, which occurred Feb. 25. “”It just goes to show the power of Twitter,” Lane said. “As soon as I posted my message on the website everything just went crazy.”
The downside of her sudden Twitter fame: Media coverage that Lane felt made the couple look like moochers. “Can’t believe the story on the mail online! £10k in donations? We didn’t get any money! Will be having words in the am!”
NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski gained more than 100,000 followers in two hours while live-tweeting from his car during the Sprint Cup’s premier race, the Daytona 500. From his car, he tweeted a now-famous picture of a fire on the track while the race was delayed.
Some observers wondered whether Keselowski had violated a NASCAR rule against recording devices in cars during races. But NASCAR said he and other racers can keep cell phones in their cars and encouraged them to use social media “as long as they do so without risking their safety or that of others.”
Turning to Twitter is becoming second nature for people who personally feel the brunt of government crackdowns in the Middle East. Journalist Mona El Tahawy, a central information source during protests in Egypt, is the latest example.
El Tahawy tweeted that she was “Beaten arrested in interior ministry.” The next day, after a global outcry, she tweeted, “I AM FREE” and shared the details of her ordeal. She also thanked the political activist who lent her the phone she used to write the tweet that inspired the hashtag #freemona. Mathew Ingram of GigaOm credited the Twitter community with fostering her rescue.