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Is Twitter Spreading False Information?

First let me be clear, I know people have died from the Swine Flu. I am in no way taking that lightly, this is a serious issue. Nor am I an expert in the subject of the Swine Flu or anything similar to it.

map


That being said I was doing some beta testing today on a search application  for a friend and decided to use the keywords “Swine Flu”. I was blown away by what I found. Let me share some of the observations I made. I will do it in list form, as people like lists:

-Its one of the top trending topics on Twitter

-By my estimate the term  it is being used an average of 50 times  ever 5- 10 seconds on Twitter

-Twitter has more updated, current and correct information then any news source…. or does it?

According to posts I have read, the Swine Flu is in:

Oregon

Florida

Washington

North Carolina

and almost everywhere

(I was going to repost these tweets, but decided sharing them would be passing on possible incorrect information)

How accurate is the information we are getting, sharing and posting on Twitter? Better yet how about any social networking site?

Now for the states I mentioned there was no link back to a major news source, like CNN, ABC, Fox, etc.  I did check a pretty cool map thing on USA Today that did not show any cases of the flu there as of this post be written. On top of that these posts were being retweeted. A retweet is when someone passes on your post, to share with others. Is Twitter, are we, passing on incorrect information and causing people to be misinformed? Is Twitter causing things like the swine flu to become bigger then they are? Are we using social networking sites to increase panic, hype and  worry where there is no need?

I know Im getting deep and ask more questions then I have answers to.

What are your thoughts? Am I way off and should just chill out?

For what its worth, I do follow the CDC Emergency Twitter, which I believe to be official. It gives links to sites and information that comes from the CDC official webpage.

UPDATE April 26 10:30ish : Before I put this post up on Tuesday afternoon, CNN posted:

Swine flu creates controversy on Twitter

Seems someone else was thinking about the same things as myself.

UPDATE: April 26 12:33: From Todd Scott Macissac Florida Hospital Denies Swine Flu Case Has Been Confirmed hmmm does this mean the person who posted the tweet had inside info?

April 28, 2009 By : Category : Blog Tags:, , , , ,
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