The scientific community is worried about losing Twitter, which has become a valuable tool

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The scientific community is worried about losing Twitter, which has become a valuable tool

According to the Washington Post, Elon Musk, new boss of Twitter, wants to significantly reduce the company's staff.

For days, emergency doctors, virologists, infectiologists or even epidemiologists have been multiplying messages on Twitter, telling their subscribers how to follow them on other platforms, in case the social network bought by billionaire Elon Musk were to malfunction.

The bluebird company has fired half of its 7,500 employees, and several hundred more have walked out, raising concerns about the network's ability to survive. The unpredictability of his new boss also raises fears of measures that would profoundly alter the essence of the platform.

However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of #x27;medical experts have made Twitter a real tool: to get information, share their research, communicate public health messages or even forge working relationships with colleagues.

The pandemic has, I believe, really been a tipping point in using social media as a resource for researchers, Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist at the University of Manitoba, told AFP. in Canada.

In January 2020, COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire around the world. Studies are being carried out everywhere to understand how the virus spreads, and how to best protect yourself from it. They are shared at full speed on Twitter to respond to the anxiety of health professionals and the general public alike.

It's the advent of preprints ( preprint), which is the first version of a scientific study, before it is peer-reviewed and published in a recognized journal.

In the midst of a pandemic, the ability to quickly share information is crucial for the dissemination of knowledge, and Twitter makes it possible to do this in a way impossible to achieve with specialized journals, underlined in April 2020 a comment posted in the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine.

The process of verifying the results takes place virtually live on Twitter, with scientists publicly sharing their interpretations and critiques of each new study . With certainly, sometimes, a perverse effect: certain works receive an attention which they do not deserve, and researchers express themselves on subjects far from their field of expertise.

Thanks to Twitter, many experts have also started working together, remotely.

There are people I work with now from relationships who are born on Twitter. To think that could change in the near future is a source of concern and regret, said Jason Kindrachuk, 22,000 subscribers, who works on Ebola in Africa in particular.

Beyond pure research, the social network also plays an important role in terms of communication vis-à-vis politicians and the general public.

At the time of x27; emergence of the Omicron variant at the end of 2021, this information was shared publicly via Twitter by our South African and Botswana colleagues, points out Jason Kindrachuk, allowing many countries to start preparing.

The impact is all the greater because Twitter has long been highly frequented by another professional body: journalists.

Because Twitter is a platform heavily followed by journalists, it helps amplify the message, which is then likely to land in traditional media, points out Céline Gounder, an infectious disease specialist with 88,000 subscribers.

< p class="e-p">Faced with concern about the future of Mr. Musk's network, she told AFP that she had moved a private discussion with a dozen colleagues to messaging Signal, and relaunched its publications on the LinkedIn professional network, or the Post News platform.

Many experts share the name of their profile on the rival network Mastodon, and others a link to their Substack information feed. it will take time, and unfortunately infectious diseases will not wait for us to find new mechanisms of c communication.

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