I have just spent a week at a highly regarded international research conference. A conference which like many these days actively encourages delegates to use twitter by providing a conference specific hashtag (#)to share their thoughts and opinions with other conference delegates and the wider community. An overseas colleague of mine opened the conference with an excellent keynote presentation on nursing resilience which was research based, international in perspective and initiated a lot of discussion...or it would have had her time not been cut short to allow someone else to have the floor to present on a topic which the speaker themselves acknowledged would only be relevant to UK delegates (although I would debate that had the speaker made more of an effort to internationalise their remarks)
So, in the Twitter spirit of open debate I tweeted a mild criticism along the lines of
'Excellent keynote from @***. Shame it was curtailed to accommodate another speaker'
Fairly innocuous I think you will agree, so imagine my surprise when this tweet was removed from the twitter wall that was providing an overview of the all tweets that were using the conference hashtag - I had been censored!
I have to say that this is not the first time this has happened to me at this conference a similar thing occurred last year, when I pointed out that it was quite rude to refer to three out of four nominees for a prestigious PhD award as 'Dr' and the fourth merely by her first name. I remain puzzled by the fact that a conference which exists to promote discussion and debate is so insecure that it feels the need to remove the mildest dissent from the twitter stream available to delegates. I am against twitter trolling as much as the next girl but is hard to see the offence in this gentle criticism and I would have welcomed any debate it may have inspired.
I guess the message is dissent and risk being censored or be undefatigably sweet and positive, toe the conference party line and be retweeted to your hearts content.