No more dragons left to slay

For years one of the fronts that social media advocates battled was the freedom to tweet at meetings. A number of meetings (we are looking at you ATC) were less than welcoming. I suspect many conferences were used to selling access to the meeting to people who did not participate through video tape, audio recordings or other means and they saw the social media coverage as unnecessary competition.

Why let bloggers and social media gadfly provide for free what we can sell.

Conferences are also typically run by people not on social media and who are unfamiliar with the norms of those communities. Organizers paraded excuses of academic purity and protecting authors. The issues are well documented here.

This all bubbled over last week at the American Diabetes Association national meeting in San Diego (#2017ADA). The organizers tried to enforce a no pictures policy:

One take down notice, lead to another, lead to another and suddenly the @AmDiabetesAssn feed was nothing but take down notices:

I think Swapnil hit the crux of the issue with this Tweet:
Hey ADA, why even have a hashtag and twitter presence for #2017ADA ? Information wants to be free. Welcome thanks the modern age!

— Swapnil Hiremath, MD (@hswapnil) June 9, 2017

If a conference is going to wade into the world of Twitter and encourage people to participate and spread the knowledge and experience of the conference they must play by the rules of the social media platform they are using. MedTwitter is firmly in the camp of information wants to be free. Encouraging people to tweet while at the same time abandoning one of their core tenets is going to fail every time. 
In the end the ADA was made to look like fools (for the second time in two years, check out this story from 2016, and note that the embargo was designed to keep the information secret for 30 minutes before the article was published). And towards the end of the week the ADA appeared to be backtracking:
One quote, one tweet:

Linda Cann, the association’s senior vice president, was quoted by Liz Neporent, ” The association will be reevaluating the policy after the meeting is over”

I’ve been chair of the sci sessions oversight comm- its the docs who decide policy – till now presenters wanted protection. It will change

— Lou Philipson (@lphilipson) June 11, 2017

I think this marks the end of photo bans at conferences. The ADA tweet stream was such a mess and the photo ban distracted from any scientific messaging the conference wanted to convey that no conference will again try to enforce a similar ban. You may still see signs and slides urging people not to tweet but you can say good bye to aggressive take down notices and heavies hired to patrol the conference rooms.
Matt Sparks and I have been working on ASN for a couple of years and with a final push from the ASN Communication Committee, the ASN Council has reversed their (unenforced) photo ban. This will be the rule going forward. The good guys won this one.