In 1983, when CERN discovered the W and Z bosons, the announcement to the world came 5 days after the internal seminar. In contrast, in 2012 CERN’s live tweeting of the Higgs discovery reached news desks before the press release. The speed at which breaking news reaches people is unprecedented due to social media.
We are now in the final preparations for the start of run 2, with LHC experiments poised to take data at the higher energy levels of 13 TeV. With excitement building, so too is the urge to be the first to send out breaking news online. Why then are researchers being encouraged to coordinate their communications with CERN?
There are three aspects to the answer. The first lies with the readers of the messages. They want to understand what is going on and share in the excitement. Real-time messages need to avoid conflicting or confusing information, hence the benefit of coordination and clarity. The second lies in the general practises we are familiar with, certain journals request that the scientists respect embargoes to not communicate about their research until the journal has officially published; CERN too requests a similar courtesy. The third lies in the CERN social media guidelines. Taking time to fact-check information that remains permanently online is invaluable, clarifying whether information is official and is clear not only affects your online reputation but also that of the organization.
We are all part of this scientific endeavour, we work hard and we share the excitement. We do this by all working together and respecting the CERN code of conduct, which underpins the CERN social media guidelines.