Medical conversations are happening on Twitter, not Facebook

Medical conversations are happening on Twitter, not Facebook

When Twitter initially launched I was largely skeptical on how it could be utilized in medicine.  Initially I thought Facebook was a better option due to the ability to use more than 140 characters. Over time though, it has become clear the medical conversations are happening on Twitter, not Facebook.

An example of this is when we highlighted the #FOAMed movement — Free Open Access to Medicine Education.

We highlighted how physicians around the country are using twitter and social media to teach and learn in a dynamic way. In particular, we referenced 11 critical FOAMed resources for emergency medicine.  Nowhere was Facebook mentioned.

I think that’s a good thing.

Mainly because Facebook’s privacy settings are so nebulous.  Over time I’ve come to realize Facebook is starting to turn into the old Internet Explorer — bloated. Twitter is simple, straightforward, and you’re not worried about messing around with various profile settings due to updated policies every few months. Even though I was an early adopter of Facebook, getting an account during my college years months after it’s launch, I stopped using it a few months ago and haven’t looked back.

On my news feed in Twitter, not only can I keep up to date on the latest medical literature, but I can see debates between my fellow physicians about the various literature as well in real time.

I would argue there is a higher level of peer review that happens on Twitter at times than by some of the largest medical journals.  You don’t see this high level of medical conversation on Facebook.  Instead you get status updates about peoples miscellaneous thoughts or another invite to some random event you don’t plan on attending.

Further, Facebook doesn’t carry the medical conversation forward — it’s too declarative.  Twitter is not.

Grown up medical conversations are happening on Twitter, not Facebook.

Iltifat Husain is founder and editor,, where this article originally appeared.  He can be reached on Twitter @IltifatMD.

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  • Simon Sikorski MD

    So true! Unless you form a group for the organization on Facebook. Those are equally effective as Twitter.

    But I still prefer to connect the faces from Twitter in real life meetups.

    The best way to chat via Twitter would be to “attend” hashtag discussions in the topics of your choice, connect with individuals via Twitter, but ask them when they’re going to be nearby at a conference or when you’re going to be near them. The folks you meet on Twitter really do care about networking.

    We should meet at Converge Healthcare Innovation Summit in Philadelphia on July 9th. Let me know if you don’t have a ticket and I can get you a discount through Healthcare Pioneers membership.

  • Kristi Bruno

    I tend to agree with you, but I also think it is worth mentioning that the medical community has been a little later to the game when it comes to social media because of HIPAA, perception of statements as medical advice, etc (which you know already!). and many physicians who begin to dip a toe into social media are doing so by quietly following organizations, journals, and thought leaders on Facebook, a place where they are already comfortable. So, I wouldn’t completely write off Facebook as a means of communicating about medicine on social media.

    I do agree that Twitter is much better at mobilizing communities and groups around specific disease states because the privacy measures are pretty straight forward: share or don’t. And, of course, hashtags.

    What are your thoughts on Facebook’s hashtags? Do you think this will impact how you view Facebook’s utility for talking about healthcare and medicine on this platform?

    Thanks for the thoughtful blog!

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