Letters Censoring debate on social media

Sharing resources online is central to medical research and teaching

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j4597 (Published 06 October 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j4597
  1. Angelica Sharma, medical student1,
  2. Samuel Chun, medical student2
  1. 1Cardiff University School of Medicine, Cardiff CF14 4XN, UK
  2. 2St George’s, University of London, London SW17 0RE, UK
  1. sharmaa40{at}cardiff.ac.uk

Mohammadi discusses the American Diabetes Association’s attempt to censor what delegates at its meeting tweeted.1

Conferences can be extortionately expensive to attend in person. I (AS) received funding from my medical school to attend the Diabetes UK 2017 conference, which did not lack a social media presence—wi-fi passwords were widely distributed to encourage sharing views online. Before the conference I was requested to provide a “disclaimer” on my slides stating any unpublished research. I approached presenters via Twitter to ask questions and commend peers on their hard work. While undertaking my intercalated degree in endocrinology, I hope to use websites such as Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with the latest research.

The strong online presence of conferences such as the Association for Medical Education in Europe is reassuring for those who might not be able to attend. Valuable resources are posted online, enabling interaction with high profile discussions.

Putting a price tag on accessing information restricts the stance of evidence based medicine. Concepts are often discussed on social media for research and teaching purposes.

The popular hashtag #FOAMed (free open access to medical education) aims to bring together the ideas of people worldwide and collate resources that are accessible anywhere at any time. Instead of storing useful resources on a memory stick, they should be shared to benefit others.

We need greater awareness and written guidance on the use of social media. Perhaps all speakers at conferences should explicitly state their consent to sharing content online.

Whether social media bans will be viewed as historical arguments by those who failed to recognise the appetite for global communication will be interesting to note.



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