Researchers say social media activists’ thought-policing is having a chilling effect on pursuing cures for diseases.
Advocates on social media are targeting scientists who release studies that don’t fit into their views on the diseases, going so far as to wishing for the demise of their careers because of a research paper. Scientists say it can dissuade researchers for wanting to do work on certain diseases, setting off a vicious cycle where patients are the ones who suffer.
A spokesperson for Twitter said the platform “exists to serve the public conversation. Its strength lies in providing people with a diversity of perspectives into critical issues – all in real-time.” Where someone used anonymity for bad purposes, Twitter would take immediate action, the spokesperson added.
SOCIAL MEDIA SUPERCHARGE
The idea of critics or activists challenging researchers and seeking to hold science to account isn’t new. Most researchers say they are happy to engage in discussion. But with social media, email and internet now accessible from almost every home, mass communication gives online activists a voice with unprecedented power. In the field of CFS/ME research, it’s often personal. Those at the center of it say it’s gotten out of control.
“The toxicity of it permeates everything,” Sharpe told Reuters.