Should Twitter be Regulated at Medical Meetings? | 33 charts

Bryan Vartabedian MD:

We don’t need our meeting dialog subjected to legislation.

Using terms like “regulation” and “legislation” creates a straw man. Of course we don’t want meeting organizers to formally control the use of social media at meetings. However, we should be careful in our use of social media at meetings.

The biggest danger I see is the public broadcasting of non-peer reviewed research that may be deeply flawed.

Scientific meetings are the beginning of the vetting process for research findings. Meeting organizers do a cursory review of research prior to accepting it for presentation at a conference. This review is based on submitted abstracts and mostly involves ensuring the research is relevant to the conference; it does not involve scientific review. Thus, when a researcher stands at the podium promulgating their conclusions, few people have had a chance to critically review their methods and findings.

In contrast, research published in scientific journals has been through a formal peer review process and found fit for public distribution.

We are also in danger of over-simplifying complex research findings in our dash to encapsulate a speaker’s words in pithy 140-character snipits. We tend to broadcast select conclusions that reflect our own biases and may misrepresent the researcher’s own thoughts. 140 characters does not allow for qualification or explanation of a result.

While I agree with Doctor V that “regulation” or “legislation” are wholly unnecessary, I would implore conference attendees to think twice about what they tweet at meetings.