I’m a bit of a goody-two-shoes most of the time. I like rules; I like to play by them. If someone hands me a policies and procedures handbook, I read it and then tick boxes as I make sure I do what is expected of me. Playing by the book is my MO! (You can see why being diagnosed with diabetes is not really in sync with this philosophy…)

So, it pains me greatly when I see a rule that I don’t like – especially one that I can see no reason to be there!

I am in Adelaide from tomorrow for the Australian Diabetes Society – Australian Diabetes Educators Association annual conference. Actually, tomorrow, I am presenting at the Roche Educators Day which is very exciting and also making me a little nervous. Speaking to healthcare professionals about the benefit of using social media is sometimes a terrifying thought. In fact, the people listening are the definition of a tough audience. (So, if anyone who is attending tomorrow is reading this, please be kind and nice and gentle and open to discussing this topic. Please!)

It has been great that the planners of the conference for the last couple of years have actually bothered to consider how social media can be used to talk about what is going on in the presentations. There was some great tweeting last year – admittedly, mainly people from Diabetes Victoria and the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research, but nonetheless, definitely an improvement on previous years. (So maybe, all the talking to healthcare professionals about social media is starting to pay off??)

This is all great. All heading in the right direction! Social media at our premier diabetes healthcare professional conference is here to stay. So I was really disappointed to see this year that the social media guidelines on the conference website state the following:

The use of photographic, video, or other type of recording devices is strictly prohibited in all oral sessions (i.e., platform, plenary, invited, etc.) and poster sessions at the ADS ADEA 2015 ASM. Therefore, it is also strictly prohibited to post photos/images or video recordings from these sessions on any type of online site, including social media platforms, blogs, personal Web pages, etc.

Now, I recently got into trouble for breaking a similar rule. When I attended the ADA meeting in Boston, I was live tweeting Bill Polonsky’s sessions, and tweeted a couple of his slides*. Within minutes, the SoMe boffins from the ADA sprang into action:

I was firmly rapped over the knuckles. There were a few follow up tweets from DOC peeps obviously as pissed off as me about the policy. We all thought it was pretty crazy.

So let me explain why I don’t like this policy.

I completely understand if there is a restriction around photographing unpublished data. That makes sense. But I believe that the people in the room are smart enough to not take photos of anything if they are told that it is unpublished. They would understand why there was such a restriction and, I believe, not publish the data.

But if the data is in the public domain and available for everyone, then what is the harm?

I live tweet conference sessions because it is a great way to capture what is going on in the moment at the meeting. I am also very aware of what a privilege it is to be in the room! Most people with diabetes don’t get the chance, so this is an opportunity to share what is being discussed.

Of course, I quote what the speaker is saying, or highlight key points, but with a 140 character limit, the value of a picture and its thousand words is never truer!

It also means that there is less chance of me misinterpreting what is being said.

Live tweeting from conferences is a fabulous way to reach a far broader audience – frequently an audience that may never actually be in the room – yet is directly affected by what is being discussed! And I have said it before, but one of the reasons that it is so great to have consumer reps in the room is because we share the information. How many of us actually have HCPs who do that when we see them?

I tweet and blog and talk about them – as do my peers – and that is how we find out what is hot, what is new, what is coming up.

This policy is ridiculous. And it needs to be changed.

*For the record, one of the tweets I sent at ADA was a photo of Dr Gregory House. Dr Polonsky was using a photo of him to illustrate a point. It was a good point. It was a good photo. Plus, I love Hugh Laurie and any chance to look at him. It was worth getting told off for!