Tweet Your Way to a Pandemic Warning

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News Posted: Thu, Mar 19 2009 1:12 AM

Much has been made of a possible bird flu pandemic, and Twitter might just be the answer to predicting it, if a new Twitter mashup has its way. SickCity calls itself "realtime disease detection for your city," and gathers statistics by looking for tweets that specify diseases or feeling ill.

The site also notes that they will be adding Facebook soon, which would add a significant number of data points to their feed of "sickly" information. The site scans for the terms flu, food poisoning, headcolds, chicken pox and sore throat. The stats go back to the last 31 days.

Chicken pox? Hmmm, I think they should go more general and not so specific. And where's bird flu?

The current top 10 list of Sick Cities is New York, London, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sydney.

Remember Google's
Flu Trends tracker that launched late last year? It uses search data as well as CDC info, but doesn't drill down to the city level. That drew concern over privacy issues. SickCity actually displays the Twitter feed info for tweets, so the question is: will this draw similar privacy concerns?

After all, I'm not sure
megsapatsfan12 wants everyone to know that he had a sore throat 4 hours ago or so.

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tanka12345 replied on Thu, Mar 19 2009 11:45 PM

Looks like an unreliable way to track disease to me, and how are they allowed to scan tweets without peoples permission?

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shanewu replied on Mon, Mar 23 2009 7:52 PM

do people on twitter really care about privacy? i mean they seem to think we care about every little thing they're doing...sounds ironic to be concerned about it really...

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