Learning the Hard Way to Watch What You Say on Twitter and Facebook

February 25, 2011
Jill taylor

Does comfort level affect physicians' judgment with regard to how they use Twitter and other social media tools and what information they communicate?

I wrote in my previous post about how a younger generation of physicians is leveraging technology and speculated about the impact this might have on the traditional practice model. Lukas Zinnagl of MedCrunch was also thinking about ways in which technology can be applied in medical practice and wrote a post about what he considers the top 10 tech services for physicians.

While I have to say that Wikipedia doesn’t exactly scream “physician tool” to me (it’s number 10 on Zinnagl’s list), Getting Things Done fans will appreciate tools like Remember the Milk™, and those who make notes on the run will appreciate Evernote, promoted as the application that Tim Ferriss used to write his latest book.

Twitter is also included in Zinnagl’s list, and just as social media is getting attention from medical schools with regard to professional use, more physicians than ever are weighing in on Twitter, according to a letter to the editor published in JAMA. I don’t have access to the entire letter but from what I understand, it’s interesting.

As pointed out in an APA Monitor article from last year, social media is blurring the line between our personal and professional lives. Although Facebook is treated as a private forum, we’ve learned -- some of us the hard way -- that it most definitely is not. What we are used to saying around the dinner table and at the water cooler is not acceptable online, no matter what your privacy settings are. And virtually no social media tool spreads messages as quickly as Twitter, so as soon as you hit the enter key, you’ve committed to limitless publication, no matter your number of followers.

Does one’s comfort level with social media tools affect judgment with regard to how the tools are used and the type of communications that are made? If you know of any research on this topic, I would be interested in reading it.