Twitter Could Predict Next Flu Pandemic

03.19.09 | FL News Team

Do you "tweet" when you have the flu? A lot of people are and now health experts are suggesting the social networking site known as Twitter might be used to track the disease as it circles the globe.

Cnet.com is reporting the online service has worked well for scientists tracing everything from earthquakes to forest fires. Now the new "SickCity" feature is tracking tweets posted by people reporting an illness ranging from sore throat to, well, zombification. SickCity allows users to access data all the way down to the level of an individual city showing a 31-day trend. Soon, data from Facebook will be added.

Twitter is a social networking site that lets users read each others posts, known as "tweets," short text-based posts which are sent to designated users rather than subscribers having to access the site to hunt up posts. The site is designed to provide quick answers to a single question, "what are you doing?"

Twitter doesn't publish the number of active accounts it's servicing but the number is thought to be around five million which would make it the third most popular social networking site right behind Facebook and MySpace.