Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Twitter Considered Harmful To Swine-Flu Panic

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the you-have-the-flu-swine dept.

Social Networks 383

judgecorp writes "Twitter is being criticized for spreading panic about swine flu. This is not just knee-jerk Luddism 2.0: it's argued that Twitter's structure encourages ill-informed repetition, with little room for context, while older Web media use their power for good — for instance Google's Flu Trends page (which we discussed last winter), and the introduction of a Google swine flu map." On a related note, reader NewtonsLaw suggests that it might be a good idea, epidemiologically speaking, to catch the flu now vs. later.

cancel ×

383 comments

I'm in your twitter (-1, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742159)

making it swine-flu.

Life imitating art? (5, Funny)

DavidChristopher (633902) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742165)

http://xkcd.com/574/ [xkcd.com]

I'm not sure if that's funny, ironic, satiristic, scary or just reality, but, you've GOT to wonder...

Re:Life imitating art? (4, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742257)

Nah, Randall Munroe is simply this century's Nostradamus.

Not a hard prediction (5, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742787)

Well, it's not a hard prediction. I mean, whole threads of uninformed and stupid people spewing stupidities... on the internet? Who would have guessed? ;) In related news, bears do poop in the woods, the pope is indeed a catholic, and the ocean is indeed wet.

On the other hand, to be fair, the internet only made it easy to run into such conversations which otherwise would have happened at the pub or at a street corner, with equally uninformed people nodding through and offering their own stupid advice. Just think of all the cabbies who can't manage their own finances, but are ready to discourse at length about how the government should fix the economy. Or of all the people who can't be diplomatic enough to their neighbour, but apparently know exactly what the president should tell France or Russia. Etc.

And occasionally whole "theories" have been formed out of such stupid-preaching-to-the-stupid situations.

E.g., historically "animal magnetism" was born out of weaker correlations than the "lick an autistic kid" in the comic. And some people still buy magnets and crystals as cures... although they were known to be scams at least as early as 1841 when Charles Mackay published his "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds."

E.g., homeopathy was born out of the observation that, basically, small doses of quinine cure malaria, but high doses of quinine cause the same kind of shivers as malaria. In the meantime we know why both happen, and it has nothing to do with "like cures like". But some people _still_ insist on believing in a cure that's intellectually on par with "lick an autistic kid" and born out of a correlation that was every bit as stupid and superficial. (In fact, just watch, I'm going to rub my crystal ball and predict that someone will promptly post a reply as to how wrong I am, and how homeopathy works and is proven and cures everything from hypochondria to cancer;)

But there is a difference... (4, Interesting)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742891)

The difference is that we get a new sort of belief chain.

In the pub your degrees of freedom is 1 maybe 2, but on the Internet it truly becomes 6...

So while in a pub you will have people spewing theories, it will stay in the pub. Whereas on the Internet, a friend copies a friend, copies a friend and at the end we have the entire world believing things will come to an end.

In this stock market the reason why it was such a harsh drop was not because times were crap. But there was one thing new...

BLOGS... We have this huge echo chamber of how bad things are FROM third hand people.

If you were to say, "ok so how bad are times for you?" Most would say, "oh not so bad, but its really bad for some other folks."

Well do that enough you start wondering who these "other" folks are...

BTW I did buy heavily in this stock market drop! And I am actually positive for my ENTIRE portfolio for the year!

Still not exactly new (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#27743001)

It's still not exactly new. Stupidities have occasionally spread out of control before too. E.g., the idea of curing everything with a magnet has happened centuries before blogs, and it spread world-wide anyway. And since we're talking the stock market, the crash of 1929 happened long before blogs.

Re:Life imitating art? (4, Interesting)

teko_teko (653164) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742285)

The xkcd forum users actually registered and recreated those tweets on the comic: listing [echochamber.me] .

Re:Life imitating art? (5, Funny)

TheMightyFuzzball (1500683) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742421)

XKCD Considered Harmful To Swine-Flu Panic

false information in comic (5, Funny)

drben (51740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742793)

You cannot get swine flu from eating pork.

However, you can get revenge that way.

Thank God - I'm safe, I'm a vegetarian (3, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742887)

At least I won't have to bother with all this washing your hands, avoiding public places, looking out for symptoms malarkey. Serves you meat eaters right!

Autism (5, Funny)

MortenMW (968289) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742175)

Just lick a kid with autism and you will be safe!

Re:Autism (4, Funny)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742225)

Not as safe as if you move,... to Madagascar!

Re:Autism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742281)

But you have to do it before they close all the ports!

Re:Autism (2, Insightful)

Ragzouken (943900) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742739)

Don't you mean close THE port?

Re:Autism (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742727)

Do we REALLY need XKCD fanboy-ism over here on slashdot? It's bad enough on digg...

Difficult (2, Interesting)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742193)

People using twitter, or people blaming twitter. What's the word I'm looking for?

Re:Difficult (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742377)

retards?

Re:Difficult (4, Funny)

Errtu76 (776778) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742427)

People using twitter, or people blaming twitter. What's the word I'm looking for?

crap

Re:Difficult (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742575)

twits

No its official (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742893)

You can catch swine flue just by using twitter. Funny, with a name like that I always though that bird flue was the bigger risk.

A better idea (4, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742207)

might be a good idea, epidemiologically speaking, to catch the flu now vs. later.

That's silly: why would the solution to eradicating a disease be catching it when it's already out there?

A better solution would be to treat the causes of the disease in the first place. In this case, H1N1 is a variant of the Spanish flu. Spain, Mexico? see a pattern? Of course, the solution is to ban Spanish and classical guitar worldwide.

Re:A better idea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742219)

or better, ban Spanish exchange students.

Re:A better idea (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742269)

Nonsense, check out the google map. The flu hasn't made it to Madagascar and I doubt it will due to the lack of airports in the country.

I suggest you get on the next boat to Madagascar post haste before the port is closed.

Re:A better idea (1)

Kvasio (127200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742497)

Fact that there are o airports does not stop airplanes to "land" there.
Didn't you know that? [cartoonary.com]

Re:A better idea (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 5 years ago | (#27743023)

Nonsense, check out the google map. The flu hasn't made it to Madagascar and I doubt it will due to the lack of airports in the country.

Right. But then what of people coming by train ? huh ?

Re:A better idea (4, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742331)

That's silly: why would the solution to eradicating a disease be catching it when it's already out there?

I reached the same conclusion (that catching now would be better than later) but for different reasons. Assuming you are going to catch it at some point, if you caught it right now then you'd be one of a very small number of infected people, and you'd receive a lot of attention and a lot of care. If it spreads and pretty much everyone gets it, then good luck getting any sort of access to health care (if you actually need it - most people have gotten better without special care)

I think one of the biggest challenges we'll face in a pandemic is educating people to stay away from hospitals unless they are really really sick. Based on what i've seen in the past, everyone will be marching up to the hospital at the first sign of the sniffles... you're more likely to get beaten to death by an irate parent trying to get their child seen to than to actually get help :)

Re:A better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742527)

Q: Why are hospitals so full of sick people? A: That's where the germs are. Duh!

Re:A better idea (5, Interesting)

registrar (1220876) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742605)

The reason the idea is dumb is that as time passes, diseases tend to evolve to become more infectious, but less pathogenic. It's an obvious bit of natural selection: you will avoid people you know to be sick, and hence you are more likely to be infected by a less ill person.

The classic example is from Samoa in the 1918 influenza pandemic. Then, 25% of the population of Western Samoa died of flu. The American Navy maintained quarantine around American Samoa, and the flu didn't get there for about a year. Only a small fraction of the (nearly identical) population died.

So if there's a nasty flu about, get it late.

Re:A better idea (4, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742915)

Could that be because the navy was there to provide medical facilities and treatment to the people on American Samoa?

Re:A better idea (1, Informative)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742617)

and also, if healthy people start congregating around hospitals they're more likely to catch the thing - you know, cause hospitals are the places where all the sick people are

Re:A better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27743059)

One word (or is it two?) - FIREBREAK

Re:A better idea (0)

Duckie01 (10586) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742599)

Nooooo! That'd unleash the giant guinea-pigs and get everyone killed!!

Re:A better idea (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742629)

It would be easier to just ban the virus. Make swine-flu illegal, and only outlaws will have swine-flu. Make having swine-flu a felony, punishable by death.

Seriously though, perhaps people are getting sick because they're stressed out. Who better to be stressed out that those 25-40 years old, who are stressed about losing their job and whatnot in this recession. Then again, maybe it's wrong to assume being stressed out affects one's immune system and it's ability to fight off things.

Re:A better idea (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742719)

Nobody expects the Spanish flu!

Re:A better idea (1)

klahnako (209184) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742763)

No! Do not get it too early!

This is a new virus, and it can be both unstable and deadly. If you can delay getting the virus, it has a chance to evolve into a strain that is more effective at transmitting to other hosts; in other words, it becomes less leathal.

Re:A better idea (1, Interesting)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742781)

I'd have thought catching ANY disease early would be a good thing for all of the following reasons :-

1 - You are likely to receive more (medical) attention early on before the finance departments start making "risk assessments" and other evaluations to decide IF a certain person should even receive vaccines / treatment.

2 - You get a chance to build up an early resistance to it, so even if it mutates, you won't be hit as hard, if at all, the 2nd time around.

3 - You also get a chance for the antibiotics etc to work, before the virus itself attains drug resistant strains.

Funnily enough I just had a flu jag last week, including an H1N1 variant.

Re:A better idea (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742861)

If you start taking antibiotics for a virus, you are doing it wrong.

This just in (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742215)

Giving people a voice spreads panic. Film at 11.

People want to be heard. And they learned from the news that bad news get the most attention. So what do you do when you want the most attention? You spread bad news. You invent them where necessary, because everyone else does it too and you gotta outdo them.

We, in the free world, didn't learn the lesson that people with tightly controlled media learned a long time ago: Just because you may say the truth doesn't mean that you have to. We grew up with free press and the idea that you can tell it the way it is. The fallacy was to assume people would do just that.

Maybe this, along with other similar "problems", will teach us that, surprise, surprise, people lie to you when they think they gain an advantage out of it. Just don't believe everything you hear.

Re:This just in (2, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742295)

We, in the free world, didn't learn the lesson that people with tightly controlled media learned a long time ago [...] We grew up with free press and the idea that you can tell it the way it is.

How quaint. You have free press? Please let me know where your free world is, I'm moving today.

Seriously though, the press in "the free world" - which is for you, I'm assuming, roughly whatever rich country that didn't fall under Soviet influence at the end of WW2 - isn't free or impartial by a long shot, because most media outfits are owned by corporations. Whatever the press is biased towards whatever furthers their owners' agenda. The only free-ish sort of media is the internet, and traditional media do their best to belittle the quality of the information there, not entirely without reason incidentally, given the low S/N ratio on the net.

As to the outbreak of swine flu, it will be controlled in no time by our modern sanitary responses, but in the meantime, it's a godsend for corporations and banks, because while it lasts, people fear the flu instead of growing a hatred for the people responsible for the economic crisis.

Re:This just in (5, Informative)

TFer_Atvar (857303) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742563)

Bull. I work at the second-largest newspaper in Alaska and pick wire stories based on what people are interested in and what folks need to stay informed. Regardless of what you might think, I'm not a part of a conspiracy or the Illuminati.

Re:This just in (4, Funny)

chromas (1085949) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742641)

I'm not a part of a conspiracy or the Illuminati

That's just what you want me to believe. Anyway, what's a newspaper?

Re:This just in (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742643)

that's what they all say! And therefore you have just proven his point by denying it.

Re:This just in (5, Insightful)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742699)

[we]pick wire stories based on what people are interested in and what folks need to stay informed.

The first part of that sentence is certainly true, whilst I can't speak for your newspaper the second part doesn't necessarily follow. People tend to be interested in the latest celebrity gossip, so papers print celebrity gossip because it sells newspapers. I don't call that keeping people informed (note: I'm from the UK that's how it works here if the USA is different then I apologise).

Re:This just in (3, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742733)

I am certain you do your best to be a good, honest journalist. However, I'm also quite sure that, if it hasn't happened already, you will find it difficult to run a story on things like, say, Palin or Exxon unabridged, if at all, depending on your newspaper's political leanings and those of its owner(s). You can't possibly tell me your stories haven't ever been edited, and/or you haven't been told to "soften up" on this or that by your editor, right?

As for supposed illuminati, free mason or jewish stranglehold on world affairs, I don't believe in any of that crap, but that doesn't mean one can't be realistic about the partiality of the media.

Re:This just in (1)

BruceCage (882117) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742747)

It doesn't really have anything to do with a conspiracy. I know some people will immediately go in a frenzy for me even recommending this but if you haven't consider reading some of Chomsky's political stuff such as Manufacturing Consent [wikipedia.org] or Media Control. Then to balance everything out take a look at the criticism section [wikipedia.org] from Wikipedia's article on Chomsky. But most important of all, stay critical and form your own opinion.

Re:This just in (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742729)

It is left as an exercise for the reader to identify the corporate interests of the owners of the BBC and the Scott Trust which owns The Observer and The Guardian in the UK.

Sensationalism (5, Interesting)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742227)

Reminds me of my local Fox News station that carried an official statement from the government about how people shouldn't panic. Then immediately followed it with a report of the number of cases around the country, then an interview with one of the victims saying how awful it was to vomit for hours on end. And then all the places and all the ways you can catch the flu, and what you should do if you do.

Fair and balanced once again.

Re:Sensationalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742289)

...Right? Do you think it was irresponsible of them to inform the public of what the symptoms were and how to act properly if you get it? Or was it just irresponsible that they explained how the virus can be acquired?

Re:Sensationalism (3, Funny)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742723)

Yes, we all need to know the symptoms of the goddamn flu.

Re:Sensationalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742291)

Fair and Balanced should have just blathered what the messiah said, instead of giving more then one source of information?

Re:Sensationalism (2, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742343)

At least they didn't have any people on saying how awful it felt to die from it (I don't know if it's fatal; I can't be bothered to read about it).

Re:Sensationalism (5, Funny)

chromas (1085949) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742657)

I've died from it twice so far. It really is a bad way to go.

Twitter and vomit (5, Insightful)

patro (104336) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742403)

one of the victims saying how awful it was to vomit for hours on end.

Maybe just a strange coincidence, but Twitter itself seems to me like a place where people are vomiting continuously.

Re:Sensationalism (4, Funny)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742569)

Can someone please tell me why Fox News is always singled out on Slashdot? Is CNN and MSNBC any better? If so, explain.

Re:Sensationalism (5, Insightful)

kno3 (1327725) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742819)

um......Bill O'Reilly
nuff said

Re:Sensationalism (1)

adminmyserver (1527927) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742779)

To be fair to Fox News, I don't think there's anything wrong with providing people with information so they can make their own decisions

I put up a website to track some of this data, including XML [dyndns.org] data [dyndns.org] . Making sure people are spreading rational, accurate information about this situation is the best thing we can do right now. It's not as though geeks normally choose to sit around in ignorance because knowledge can be dangerous

Mob Mentality (5, Interesting)

mlingojones (919531) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742241)

This isn't all that rare on Twitter. #amazonfail is a good example [shirky.com] of the Twitter jumping to conclusions and blowing something way out of proportion.

Why would it become more dangerous over time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742253)

I mean, I'm sure the chance is there, but it would be more evolutionarily advantageous if the flu didn't kill off its hosts, instead allowing them to run around as carriers. Right?

Also, too many early deaths and Madagascar is closed shut...

Re:Why would it become more dangerous over time? (1)

Twisted64 (837490) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742455)

It's fairly new? Probably needs time to settle down a bit - this is a fluctuation. I honestly hadn't heard about this until I read xkcd, makes me a bit happy :/

Is this going to lead to racial profiling? (3, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742275)

Does anyone recall the "racial caution" given to asian people (and by asian, I mean oriental, not the rest of asia that is usually ignored when people say asia) when SARS was the big worry?

Now it will be avoiding anyone of hispanic decent and of course anyone would just couldn't keep away from "spring break fever?"

In any case, looking at the google tracking information so far, it's pretty darned slight. Given that there are plenty of people who have already recovered from it, I would have to estimate that this is still little more than an ordinary flu.

People die more often of other diseases that are more easily treatable than this. I think the usual fatalities will apply -- the extremely young and extremely old. A vaccine will be put out before too long but I think with all the quarantine activity going on, it is already pretty well contained. (There may be times when the directed focus of the people is useful... now if we can just direct the focus of the people on civil liberties and the governments gone wild problems something might be accomplished.)

Re:Is this going to lead to racial profiling? (1)

nawcom (941663) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742473)

Does anyone recall the "racial caution" given to asian people (and by asian, I mean oriental, not the rest of asia that is usually ignored when people say asia)

quit bein' racist, cracka.

Re:Is this going to lead to racial profiling? (1, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742625)

Let's be honest here. Swine-Flu originated from Mexico whome most are of hispanic decent. Naturally, they will mingle closely with their family members who are (drum roll please)...hispanic! Hell, Just look at Southern California and San Antonio on Google Maps flu tracking.

From a pure statistical standpoint, your chances of catching this flu increase the more often you hang close to people of Hispanic decent. But should this thing catch on like wild fire, it will be a moot point in six months. By then, it will be just as easy to catch this flu from any random person in the public regardless of ethnicity.

One more point. You can't be politically correct and claim to be scientific in judgment. It doesn't happen.

Re:Is this going to lead to racial profiling? (5, Informative)

balloonhead (589759) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742905)

It's not just the very young and very old dying. That's part of the worry. It's early days, and what we know changes by the day at the moment. What we do know is:

- there is evidence of person to person spread (unlike bird flu, which seemed to be just animal-person)
- the people dying are over-represented in the 20-40 age group (unlike most flu)
- mortality so far has been around 7-8% (probably lower as a lot of cases probably never present for medical care and so are not included in the survival statistics
- the viral genetics are a mix of 4: human flu, swine flu, avian flu, and human/swine flu (apparently a separate one)

This might be bad news
Information source for anyone interested: I am an emergency doctor, we had a presentation this morning from a public health specialist and an infectious diseases specialist detailing the regional response plan for swine flu, so it's about as up to date as is available.

Twits considered harmful (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742317)

Quick! Before it's too late! Remove them from the language spec, along with GOTO!

Twitter: good vs. bad (1)

moshez (67187) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742323)

The "no context" is not an inescapable consequence of the infamous 140-character medium -- the web has a useful, low-character, way to spread context: links. With bit.ly and similar services, embedding links to longer reports is easy.

Re:Twitter: good vs. bad (2, Funny)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742619)

The "no context" is not an inescapable consequence of the infamous 140-character medium -- the web has a useful, low-character, way to sprea

Sorry, I had to stop reading after 140 characters, so I will assume the web is spreading this disease with a low-character method: Twitter!

1st it was bird flu, now its swine flu: load of BS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742379)

Look!
It is normal for humans and the other animals on this planet to share viruses. All this nonsense about bird 'flu and swine flu is just another way to get you the consumer to buy unnecessary medicines and vaccinations.

As animals ourselves, we have been and will continue to be infected by other life forms on this planet. Just as we eat other life forms so viruses infect life forms ie we are not a distinct species that just suddenly appeared. We evolved on Earth!

It is normal and totally natural. Most infections we can handle. Some require using our brains to rid ourselves of these infections.

If one were to consider the so called bird flu epidemic (which if you were to look back at CDC records, it was simply the flu), the death rate was miniscule. Death usually occurred where the person was infirmed, extremely young and sick. As normally happens in large populations, one would normally expect some death from flu.

Re:1st it was bird flu, now its swine flu: load of (1)

dieman (4814) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742409)

Which, you are completely, utterly, incorrect.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_mortality_from_H5N1 [wikipedia.org]

If that doesn't scare the hell out of you, how about you go find some H5N1 and let us all know how happily safe it is!

Uninformed opinion worthless (4, Insightful)

trawg (308495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742395)

News at 11

The rapid dissemination of information that twitter provides can be a good thing (or at least so I read on Bad Astronomer [discovermagazine.com] , I still haven't been to twitter after the first time I went there to see what it was), but seriously, the same rules apply as with anything you read on the Internet.

If you're a twitter user and you feel the need to let people know about things, at least link them to a reputable information source. No, an obvious conspiracy site saying this is a terrorist attack is not an information source.

It isn't just that (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742501)

The Internet adds two thing on to of just giving voice to people who are uninformed:

1) Giving voice to the crazies. There are lots of crazy people in the world. Many of these crazy people like to predict doom at every turn. While there are some historical examples of the doomsday prophets that got a widespread voice, most were just ignored. Now the Internet lets them publish to a world wide audience, and to find other crazies like them to reinforce their views. It isn't just that they are uninformed, it is that they actually want the doomsday scenario to be true.

2) Anonymity. Part of the problem of calling out doom in the real world is that if you end up being completely and totally wrong, people may decide to ignore you, ridicule you, maybe even pop you in the mouth. You become the crazy guy that nobody will invite over and so on. Well not on the net, there's basically no consequences for your actions. In another forum I saw someone who has said that for sure, this is The Big One(tm). (S)he threw out a whole bunch of "This is what's gonna happen," statements, with no backing. However when (s)he's wrong, as is almost certainly the case, there'll be no repercussions. (S)he can pull the same shit during the next big thing.

So the next just creates this perfect storm for doomsday hysteria: The information is spread instantly, there's no credentials check so there's lots of uninformed people, the crazies can talk all they like, and nobody is held accountable. Thus it becomes real easy for "A man in Brazil is coughing," to be blown up in to "All of Brazil is infected and now has a zombie apocalypse," in a matter of hours.

My advice to everyone is same as always: Trust the experts, in this case the CDC and WHO. Wash your hand often (this is a good idea no matter what) and make sure you've got some soup and acetaminophen on hand since if you get sick, you aren't likely to die, but you probably won't feel like shopping and will likely want those two things.

Huh? (1)

Critical_ (25211) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742399)

Am I the only one that finds is somewhat amusing to see a blog post criticizing the new social media star Twitter of misinforming people?

On another note, blogger Kragen Javier Sitaker, @kragen [twitter.com] has written an interesting entry on How False Rumors Can Cost Lives in light of the #swineflu crisis on Twitter by discussing the aftermath of Tuskegee on the African American community. Although I agree with many items on his personal responsibilities list, it seems almost impossible to stop inane comments from taking over any social media site open to the general public. Can we name this phenomenon after me... Hisham's Law?

Twitting (2, Insightful)

nomad-9 (1423689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742451)

"Twitter's structure encourages ill-informed repetition, with little room for context.."

... You mean, just like mass media? What a surprise.

Spreading panic (4, Insightful)

willoughby (1367773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742483)

Panic, unlike influenza, can be "spread" only to those who willingly accept it.

Re:Spreading panic (2, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742801)

But even if you don't accept it yourself, you can still be affected by it. If those in power either beleive all the rubbish spoken, or merely yield to public pressure (i.e. mob rule), your life can be severely disrupted. All it takes is for some bureaucrat somewhere to decide to close down the transit system and you can't get to work. Of if "they" decide to shut the schools, you have to take time off to look after your children.

Re:Spreading panic (1)

mlush (620447) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742935)

Panic, unlike influenza, can be "spread" only to those who willingly accept it.

Unfortunately if contracted by someone in authority your still going to catch it effects :-(

google flu trends (1)

watice (1347709) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742489)

but it looks like google's flu trends is based off who searches for flu and flu like words. how can that be accurate in the current situation we're in?

Re:google flu trends (1)

mlush (620447) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742991)

but it looks like google's flu trends is based off who searches for flu and flu like words. how can that be accurate in the current situation we're in?

It should still work... to a first approximation media coverage would cause a uniform increase is searches across the country. A flu outbreak should still create a hot spot though sensitivity would be lost as the signal/noise ratio goes pearshaped.

And the "professional" media? (4, Interesting)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742499)

I have just finished watching the evening news here in New Zealand(its 7:00pm Tuesday night) and they have been interviewing a family through a window of their quarantined house. To add to the picture, additional cameramen out on the road, hamming it up and fearful to go any closer. The main network channel is bringing test results "live at 9pm".

It is theatre at its best. It makes "alarmist" twitter look boring.

Re:And the "professional" media? (2, Insightful)

dtml-try MyNick (453562) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742627)

Despite the fact that I agree that the media in general is doing it's fair share of fearmongering..

I don't blame the cameramen in this case. The only thing they know are:
There is a new type of flu, a fair number of people *have* died from it. Full details of severity in general are not known yet. So yeah.. i'd be very carefull to if I had to talk to one of the suspected victims. Caution is a virtue.

hate (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742513)

I hate twitter. Please can someone make a new Internets keep the porn and just not allow social networking sites. Also ban the use of the phrase 'web 2.0' or web *.* of any sort.

sex witJh a sh1t (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742531)

Double Standards Much?! Fuck you kdawson (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742535)

Seriously - Slashdot story - twitter being used to spread panic, then as a fucking follow-on, quoting 'newton's law' and advocating that people rush out and get the flu now (i.e. PANIC).

Seriously we all whinge about standards here but this is a joke.

Yes it may make statistical sense to get it early so you get full access to medical care - but advocating this position IS SPREADING PANIC - things are NOT that bad yet - we get 100% detection of moratality rate, but we do NOT know how widespread it is. If it turns out its 10,000 rather than 2000 infected than this is NO WORSE than a very bad normal flu.

Thankfully in India I am safe (1)

tanveer1979 (530624) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742595)

There are so many diseases here like cholera/typhoid/TB.... that the swine flu will have to get in line to infect It will be well over a 100 years before it gets a chance to clear the waiting list.

Re:Thankfully in India I am safe (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742671)

There are so many diseases here like cholera/typhoid/TB.... that the swine flu will have to get in line to infect It will be well over a 100 years before it gets a chance to clear the waiting list.

Sorry, diseases switched to parallelism eons ago.

Re:Thankfully in India I am safe (1)

tanveer1979 (530624) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742797)

But we run quad core here, only 4 diseases permitted at one time

Re:Thankfully in India I am safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742939)

Try installing Windows 7 Starter Edition.

Ill informed repetition? just like normal News (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742649)

So far all the news broadcasts have been exactly that. "There's an outbreak of a new flu, it's in Mexico, some people there have died, lots of people have said things about it."

That pretty much sums up every news item (and it's been the headline story, too) for a couple of days. Either the BBC news thinks that anything more technical would be too difficult for their journalists to explain, or that it would be "elitist" by excluding stupid people from understanding it. I'll know that they've descended to the absolute bottom of the barrel when they start quoting twitter as a source: expected any day soon, as their other channels of information are non-existent.

Other sites jealous of twitter? Come on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742677)

That is so lame. If someone wanted to find out more they could still go on google flu trend or whatever-if it spreads anything it's opinion and alot of people link to newspaper sites that seem to be making more of an uproar the on situation than anywhere else...ridiculous-people can't state their opinion anymore? Let's hope the world hasn't gotten so fickle that they'll believe anything they read.

Panic vs reality? (1)

cj1127 (1077329) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742683)

Personally I think it'd be awesome if somebody set up a system that got the locations of confirmed cases (like pigflumap.com) vs. the locations people were Twittering from, and mapped out the overlapping areas where people had a genuine reason to be worried. Anyone know about a way to go about this?

XKCD (0, Redundant)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742713)

Why all the xkcd related posts lately?

Re:XKCD (4, Funny)

oneirophrenos (1500619) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742753)

Why all the xkcd related posts lately?

Where do you think slashdot editors get their news?

Re:XKCD (3, Informative)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742839)

Ok I got it, appearantly now clicking a tag in slashdot opens all articles with that tag. The last months it wasn't like that, and the months before that it gave an overview (which was the best behaviour). Anyway that confused me into thinking all articles of today were XKCD related. MAKE UP YOUR MIND SLASHDOT. If I click a tag, do something SIMPLE, not weird too advanced javascript loading things that open confusing pages.

feedback into conventional media (1)

Madman (84403) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742741)

It's not terribly surprising that twitter is full of uninformed bullshit, what do you expect? It's essentially web diarrhea as it encourages people to gush the first thing that comes to mind. Informed discussion takes actual thought and dare I say reasoning, neither of which lends itself to the twitter format. It's just background noise.

What concerns me is that the conventional media is taking their cues and sometimes even stories from things like twitter. Hearsay from unmoderated and unverified sources suddenly becomes fact. A case in point was yesterday the BBC said that the Mexican government was underestimating the crisis on the basis of that's what people said in an online forum! They are treating these probably uninformed and definitely fearful anonymous people as "feet on the ground" and using their statements when they can't even begin to verify the veracity of their statements, or that they are even local to the event.

I'd never state that the media used to be a paragon of virtue and accuracy, however they used to have to work for it. Now they are trawling forums and twitter and treating it as gospel, which is bad for everyone if the news becomes completely inaccurate they will destroy their credibility and if that happens what sources can people trust?

I'm not saying close twitter down, if you like it then go wild, fill your boots. I'm just saying that anyone who uses it as "factual" data should be dragged over a bed of gravel, dipped in vodka, and then rubbed in salt.

There's quality stuff on Twitter too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742745)

Enough of the garbage, please.

Twitter has been excellent.

@BreakingNews reporters @mpoppel and @RodrigoMx have been doing a sterling job over the last few days, as have @Veratect and @Swineflu2009.

And there's also @CDCemergency for those who like "official" sources.

I bet those are all Swindows users !1!!11 (1)

elsamuko (1539343) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742843)

Who didn't fix the well known critical vulnerability of Swindows and become now members of the conpigger aka swineflu.w32 botnet.

don't blame twitter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27742851)

logic error:

blaming twitter is like blaming an email server... following your logic if I and a few other people took a shit in a bucket and mailed it to you, you would blame the post office and not us? well give me your address than!

Twitter is Officially No Longer Considered Cool (1)

mlush (620447) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742921)

(If it ever was cool that is)

Twitter is becomming the butt of jokes in the mainstream media [guardian.co.uk] this is not happening because the media are scared of Twitter. Its because Twitter has become a byword for ill informed content and mob mentality to the extent that I've heard stand up comedians can get a laugh out of mocking it.

This is not good for Twitter. It needs to reinvent itself fast or it will die a victim of its own success.

I have to wonder (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742949)

Is it really a bad thing if Twitter addicts wind up charging off a cliff in an ecstasy of pointless panic? This is Social Darwinism at its best. Everybody wins.

as oppose to what? (1)

mathfeel (937008) | more than 5 years ago | (#27742971)

Have anyone caught any of the continuing coverage on all the major network today?? You don't think people will panic after watching those??

Critizing Twitter for that is the same as ... (1)

fadir (522518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27743047)

claiming that the (snail) mail is responsible for mail bombs. Twitter is just the media, it's still the people that cause a hype or a panic.

A media can make it easier for a panic to spread but would you charge the manufacturer of a knife if someone uses it to kill a person instead of preparing a filet?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...