Social media hit by swine flu

BY SIDDHARTHA VAIDYANATHAN – MEDILL NEWS SERVICE

Few diseases have been so prevalent in the social media world as the ongoing swine flu crisis. Facebook and Twitter are flooded with messages and both sites even offer maps to show the spread of the virus. You can check out the interactive map of the U.S on Twittervese and graphs and analysis on Facebook. Google Maps has done something similar here.

According to Mashable, Monday tweets about the swine flu were at about 10,000 an hour. But many of these were jokes and retweets, so it’s hard to gauge the impact of the messages going out. Many tweets talked about how the Internet had survived the “Aporkalypse”.

The American Red Cross said the swine flu outbreak was the first crisis in which the organization has used social media tools – they are using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (uploading videos in both English and Spanish).

Search engines saw spikes in searches of phrases such as “swine flu symptoms” or “swine flu pandemic” early this week. According to USA Today, “Swine flu” rose to the top of Yahoo’s searches this week.

And such constant updates have meant a shake-up in the stock markets too. According to a comment in the National Post: ” … the initial market reaction was to cause aviation stocks to fall [not good for travel] but for pharmaceutical stocks to rise, especially those that make flu vaccines [such as GlaxoSmithKline.] Johnson & Johnson makes the Purell hand cleaner.”

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