The scientific community is alarmed by the loss of Twitter, which has become “an asset”

The company with the bluebird has parted ways with half of its 7,500 employees and several hundred more have slammed the door, raising concerns about the network’s ability to continue. The unpredictability of its new boss also raises fears of measures that would profoundly alter the essence of the platform.

However, since the Covid-19 pandemic, many medical experts have turned Twitter into a real tool: to obtain information, share their research, communicate public health messages or even forge working relationships with colleagues.

The pandemic”I think it was really a game changer in using social media as a resource for researchersJason Kindrachuk, a virologist at the University of Manitoba in Canada, told AFP.

In January 2020, Covid-19 spread like wildfire around the world. Studies are underway everywhere to understand how the virus spreads and how best to protect yourself from it. They are being shared at full speed on Twitter to address the anxiety of healthcare professionals and the general public.

It is the advent ofprepress” (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 share information quickly is critical to spreading knowledge, and Twitter lets you do that in a way that magazines can’t.“specialist, underlined in April 2020 a comment published in the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine.

The process of reviewing the results happens almost live on Twitter, with scientists publicly sharing their interpretations and critiques of each new study. With certainly, at times, a perverse effect: certain works receive attention they don’t deserve, and researchers express themselves on topics far from their field of expertise.

There are people I’m collaborating with now from relationships that started on Twitter.”

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

There are people I collaborate with now from Twitter relationships. To think that this could change in the near future is cause for concern and regret.“, confided Jason Kindrachuk, 22,000 subscribers, who deals in particular with Ebola in Africa.

Beyond pure research, the social network also plays an important role in terms of communication with politics and the general public.

When the Omicron variant emerges in late 2021,”this information was shared publicly via Twitter by our South African and Botswana colleagues“, emphasizes Jason Kindrachuk, “enabling many countries to start preparing“.

The impact is all the greater as Twitter has long been very popular with another professional body: journalists.

Since Twitter is a popular platform for journalists, it helps“to amplify the message, which could then land on traditional media, emphasizes Céline Gounder, an infectious disease specialist with 88,000 subscribers.

Faced with concern for the future of Elon Musk’s network, he explained to AFP that he had moved a private discussion with a dozen colleagues on Signal’s messaging, and that he had relaunched his publications on the LinkedIn professional network, or the Post News platform .

Many pundits share their profile name on rival network Mastodon and others a link to their Substack news feed.

If you’re having trouble with Twitter, “we will find other platforms“, relativizes Jason Kindrachuk, “but it will take time, and unfortunately infectious diseases will not wait for us to find new communication mechanisms“.

With the AFP

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