Twitter and the Swine Flu

Despite Earth day last Wednesday and the Obama announcement of leasing federal water to generate electricity, I wanted to focus this week on the impact of technology on the Swine Flu and the emerging controversy around Twitter.  According to CNN, Twitter has become a hotbed of unnecessary hype and misinformation about the outbreak – propagating fear among people as opposed to seeking actual solutions.  Evgeny Morozov, a fellow at Foreign Policy, argues in an that dialogues about the swine flu on Twitter are creating hysteria and misinformation, rather than helping people stay informed. The government and other authorities are largely absent from the chatter, he argues, and a message of 140 characters doesn’t allow for much substance.  So what do you think? 

Companies like Starbucks Whole Foods and Dell use twitter to see what they customers are thinking when they use a product, allowing them to adapt their marketing.   Doctors also use Twitter to share information about procedures.  Twitter’s CEO argues that “Twitter lets people know what is going on about things they care about instantly”, but how objective can this be when we deal with emotional issues such as a pandemic outbreak.  So watch your source of information e.g., CDC is using Twitter to update population.  Healthmap identifies regions of outbreaks, the WHO has a news center for disease outbreaks.