Public Health Official Forced To Shut Up On Twitter, Blog For Daring To Speak Honestly
from the real-names? dept
We’ve been discussing lately the importance of allowing for pseudonymity, rather than requiring real names, and Todd McDermid points us to another reason why pseudonyms can be useful online. Apparently a guy named Rene Najera has been blogging and tweeting about epidemiology while at the same time being employed by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Apparently, he was quite good at it, and many folks found his posts and tweets to be useful and informative.
However, he recently got into a Twitter discussion in which he defended vaccinations. I recognize this is a touchy subject to some, but only to those who don’t pay attention to what the science actually says (or those who ignore that the main report anti-vaccination folks use was later found to be fraudulent). Given the serious health problems created by parents now refusing to vaccinate their children due to clueless anti-scientific fear-mongering, you would think that a government Department of Health would be thrilled that one of its employees was defending vaccinations and talking back to someone who was arguing against vaccines.
Instead, however, it appears that after the guy he was arguing with sent a barrage of emails to higher ups at the agency, Najera was told to stop “all social networking activity related to public health.”
I think the bigger issue is that a Department of Health would reprimand him for such actions and tell him to stop speaking about public health issues. Does the Department of Health really prefer that the actual experts stay out of these discussions, leaving them to those who aren’t informed?