WASHINGTON: Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf tweeted shortly after Elon Musk’s recent takeover to say the agency plans to continue tweeting even amid the upheaval.
“The easy thing to do would be to abandon using Twitter, but that’s not the right thing for us to do at this time,” Califf wrote Monday. “More than ever before, it’s important that FDA continues to use Twitter for good and do everything in our power to protect the public from potential harm.”
These are troubling times. The kind of divisive and hateful language that we’ve seen on Twitter in recent days is alarming. It’s entirely unacceptable, and I fear for the health of our fellow citizens targeted by these attacks. KEEP READING… ⬇️⬇️— Dr. Robert M. Califf (@DrCaliff_FDA) October 31, 2022
Califf wrote that the power of social media is an integral part of distributing important information – particularly around health and the products the agency regulates – to the public.
“Twitter has tremendous power to help people, and it has potential to lead to harm,” Califf wrote. “So, the question is: “What can the FDA do to help?”
Musk’s deal to buy Twitter finally went through last Friday and with it came a flurry of hype, jokes, anger and declarations from some users who announced they’ll be leaving the platform.
But Califf is staying put, arguing that the potential benefits of remaining on Twitter outweighed the risks for the FDA, at least for now.
While Musk stated he hasn’t made any official changes to Twitter’s content moderation policies, some people are worried that based on his past comments about free speech they may become more lax under his leadership.
Within the first two days of Musk’s takeover, Twitter experienced a barrage of hate speech from a reportedly “small number” of accounts. Twitter’s head of safety and integrity Yoel Roth noted in a tweet that the company was taking action against accounts posting slurs or derogatory comments.
Over the last 48 hours, we’ve seen a small number of accounts post a ton of Tweets that include slurs and other derogatory terms. To give you a sense of scale: More than 50,000 Tweets repeatedly using a particular slur came from just 300 accounts.— Yoel Roth (@yoyoel) October 30, 2022
For the FDA and other public health organizations, maintaining a focus on accurate and trustworthy information even as changes may occur on the platform will be key, Califf noted.
That will be even more integral as the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have had to battle misinformation online throughout the pandemic, and have had several communications bungles and missteps along the way.
“I truly do believe in the power of social media being used for good,” Califf added.
This story first appeared on mmm-online.com.