Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu on Twitter

CNN is reporting that Twitter is causing controversy about swine flu. I've already seen hundreds of tweets on swine flu over the last few days. The use of Web 2.0 resources can help control this public health problem, but it can also cause confusion and chaos if the wrong people start posting what appears to be legitimate health information. What we need is a way for healthcare professionals to send messages that are not interpreted as "medical advice" but that are tagged as accurate and reliable health information.


  1. You're right, but the whole point of Web 2.0 is free-for-all interaction and distribution of information. If you're going to complain about a bunch of people spreading misinformation, the next decade is going to be long and painful for you.

    If you don't like the message that's out there, tweet, blog, or wiki it yourself and the universe will be the judge of credibility.

    What most established media professionals don't like about Web 2.0 is that it puts everyone (and I mean everyone) on a level playing field. You have to win over the public through your own rhetoric and charm, instead of just being annointed by a media conglomerate.

  2. I have yet to hear anyone in NYC-area news media outlets discuss the respiratory infection that was present on most NYC subway cars last week. I saw, on average, between 1 out of 4-5 people ill on subway cars on the NQRW and 123 lines last week. In the current economy, no one can go to the doctor who works. You'll lose your job. I work in a law firm, and our partners making MILLIONS of dollars each year, but refuse to provide young attorneys (with hundreds of thousands of debt) any medical insurance. So, to major point: two co-workers of mine contracted a respiratory infection last week. This was all too coincidental, given the fact that there was heavy coughing on the subway last week. It was only noticed in Queens after a group of school children fell ill. I remember high school: "I'm sick, must go to doctor." Most working Americans don't have that luxury.

  3. My hope is that the public (including healthcare professionals) will use Twitter and other Web 2.0 resources responsibly to ensure the best public health. The biggest problems will arise if someone begins to post grossly erroneous information that then causes great danger to the public. Although they may not do it intentionally, their tweets and posts could endanger the public.