Targeting on Social Media

A recent survey (n=464) study (TR Pendergrast et al. JAMA Intern Med 2021; 181: 550-552. Prevalence of Personal Attacks and Sexual Harassment of Physicians on Social Media) describes personal attacks that physicians experience due to social media presence.

Key findings:

  • 108 (23%) physicians reported being personally attacked on social media with no significant differences between males and females
  • Women were significantly more likely than men to report online sexual harassment: 44 (16%) vs. 3 (1.5%)
  • Attacks were common within some topics like vaccines and gun control

The authors note that their study is limited by potential sampling error and may not be representative of the physician workforce.

My take: Online harassment is common, particularly with controversial topics. The effects of these attacks is to create distress and reluctance to engage in social media.

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