Explicit pornographic images were circulated at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of Australia, offending scientists on both sides of the Tasman.
A pornographic web link took advantage of the trending twitter hash-tag #ESA15, sending erotic images to hundreds of ecologists who were following the conference on their mobile phones and laptops.
Earlier in the day Dr Euan Ritchie of Deakin University encouraged ecologists to supersize #ESA15’s reach https://twitter.com/EuanRitchie1/status/671051121700397056 so the public could see the important science being reported on at the meeting. Little did anyone know what would happen later in the day!
"I was following the meeting from work and I was shocked by the stuff that was coming up," said Rohan Long of the University of Melbourne.
Ms Gail Spina, executive officer for the society, received a dozen complaints from concerned scientists.
Dr Ritchie reacted quickly to this attack, requesting Twitter to remove the highly offensive tweets from ESA15’s feed
We have over 600 people at our meeting and many others following it throughout Australia," said Professor Nigel Andrew, President of the ESA.
"We're really pleased that our hashtag has been trending, but I hope the pornography invasion will not deter our members from continuing to engage."
Ironically, the pornography appeared when Keynote speaker, Professor Jason Tylianakis from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, was discussing networks in ecology.
"Professor Tylianakis was explaining how key, sexually active people have the greatest influence in spreading sexually transmitted diseases throughout networks of sexually active people at the same time as this pornography was coming up on our twitter feed," said Professor Andrew.
The Ecological Society of Australia is holding its annual meeting in Adelaide this week, where delegates will discuss a wide range of topics including the sex life of wildlife.
"But pornography plays no part in our conference," said Professor Andrew.
Professor Nigel Andrew President ESA 0427 466 417
Professor Don Driscoll Chair Media Working Group 0488 657 888.