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Acad Med. 2019 May;94(5):626-629. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002649.

Cyberbullying in Academic Medicine: A Framework for Managing Social Media Attacks.

Author information

1
J. Cain is associate professor, Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, Lexington, Kentucky; ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0018-0588. E. Linos is associate professor, Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California. K.C. Chretien is professor of medicine and associate dean for student affairs, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC.

Abstract

Criticism, scathing comments, and harassment are becoming more common elements of social media discourse. Recent coordinated public attacks directed at higher education faculty illustrate these troubling trends. In several cases, these attacks have been politically motivated by participants who disagree with a faculty member's statements regarding sensitive subjects. Whereas most high-profile cases have included faculty teaching at the undergraduate level who use social media to promote scholarly discussion, medical school faculty may also be at risk, especially if their scholarly pursuits pertain to politically charged issues (e.g., race and diversity, firearms, vaccinations, the health of transgender populations). In today's digital environment of cellphone recordings, forwarded e-mails, and open-access manuscripts, any faculty member who discusses or engages in scholarship of politically sensitive issues on- or offline may be at risk. In this Invited Commentary, the authors discuss the multifaceted problem of cyberbullying of medical school faculty and provide recommendations to faculty and administrators about how to mitigate and manage these situations.

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