MediaFile

On swine flu, Scribd calls itself the “anti-Twitter”

April 30, 2009

Use Twitter’s name even when you’re dissing it: that could be a good way to ensure some publicity, given the hype around everyone’s current sweetheart. But maybe Scribd, the social publishing startup that lets you upload all kinds of documents online and embed them into blog posts, does have a point about the misinformation that Twitterers could be putting up in 140-character bursts.

After all, at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) conference last week, CUNY J-school professor Sandeep Junnarkar did begin his workshop on Twitter for journalists with a caveat: “Everything you find on Twitter is rumors, false information. That’s the default position.” Kind of like what journalists and students are always told about Wikipedia.

A press release that landed in my inbox from Scribd seeks to distinguish the San Francisco-based startup as “anti-Twitter” — the antithesis of Twitter. Scribd is “quickly becoming a trusted source for unfiltered, detailed information about the swine flu,” the release says.

In support of that contention, Scribd says people can search for comprehensive information in real time from organizations like the WHO, CDC, American Red Cross, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, The White House and others. Statements, tips and other detailed documents are uploaded to the site every day. What’s more, 80 percent of swine flu-related documents on Scribd have been put up in the past three days, as more and more people become concerned about the spread of the disease.

To cater better to the widespread interest and concern, Scribd has put up a special section on its homepage dedicated to swine flu information from health agencies, including checklists, disease descriptions, public health fact sheets, handouts and other documents. (Check out the WHO swine flu update document here.)

Facebook recently released some trend charts that measure how many of its members are talking about the disease. Meanwhile, on Twitter, the messages continue to be as diverse as ever — an effortless mix of information, opinion and emotion.

One recent Tweet I found: “(Name removed) hopes he dies of swine flu so he won’t have to hear about swine flu anymore.”

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