Did Twitter make flu fears viral?

By Reuters Staff
May 14, 2009

twitter1 Now that the panic over the H1N1 flu strain has somewhat subsided, experts are contemplating what role Twitter played in helping the virus, commonly known as swine flu, go viral.

The H1N1 virus has caused around 6,500 infections in 33 countries and 65 people have died so far, according to the World Health Organization. Common seasonal flu kills up to 500,000 people a year worldwide.

So did Twitter put the media before the message and escalate anxieties by propagating rumors of biological attack and pork production infection?

Or did the Twittersphere prove itself to be the first choice in information for the wired era?

Tell us what you think.

5 comments

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Twitter?
Don’t make me laugh, Reuters and all the rest of the corporate media engineered this charade of a swine flu.

It is part of WHY the printed press is going down fast: instead of focusing on real news, real events and real people, it focuses instead on creating theatrical drama, make up stories and tell a biased account of a limited number of events [to suit a party line] and believes no-one in the general public wants to read the truth – or that the general public likes a muddled version of truth better.

Once the news media realizes that they can’t do online what they do in print and television, then maybe, they’ll get some readers back.

Accusing Twitter of exacerbating a non-story is shifting the blame where it currently lies and it’s really a non-issue as far as I’m concerned.

Posted by Dan Dan | Report as abusive

You speak as though the virus has somehow disappeared.
It is still present, and as all virii is unaffected by media prominence.
Humans have a strange notion that they are not subject to the laws of nature – they are. The virus is still present its spread is continuing, it does not seem to be a virulent strain, but non-virulent strains can rapidly mutate into more virulent strains incorporating genetic material from other viruses. Those who speak as though this was some media construct imagine that the media can somehow summon disease, the risk remains the same whether it is covered or not. Will this be the next pandemic, it looks to be so. Unfortunately virii don’t conform to media timetables either, it could take months before the effects and mortality figures are truly known. Until then I suggest that people remain vigilant, because virii have no respect for the media or naysayers.

Posted by luke | Report as abusive

This is ridiculous. Blaming Twitter for ANYTHING is like blaming the paper a story is written on. Twitter simply provides a traceable real-time way of tracking what we are all saying/doing anyway. It doesn’t create our story, it simply provides a forum for it to be acknowledged.

Posted by Tina | Report as abusive

I suggest the readers here listen to Luke.

Posted by Influentia | Report as abusive

I second that.

Posted by Mad pete | Report as abusive