Twitter Implicated in Swine Flu Panic
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That darling grapevine of the 21st century, Twitter, is being socially indicted and implicated in the increasing panic over the currently-anticipated swine flu epidemic. According to Evgeny Morozov, a fellow at the Open Society Institute, in an article published on the website of the Foreign Policy magazine, “having millions of people wrap up all their fears into 140 characters and blurt them out in the public might have some dangerous consequences.”

Morozov analyzed the instances of messages on Twitter (known as “tweets”) which contained the term “swine flu” or the tag “#swineflu”, and came to some conclusions about what Morozov calls “the swine flu Twitter-scare.”


Says Morozov, “too many Twitter conversations about swine flu seem to be motivated by desires to fit in, do what one’s friends do (i.e. tweet about it) or simply gain more popularity.”

Morozov cites as examples tweets such as:

I’m concerned about the swine flu outbreak in us and mexico could it be germ warfare?

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And

be careful of the swine flu!!!! (may lead to global epidemic) Outbreak in Mexico. 62 deaths so far!! Don’t eat pork from Mexico!!

He then goes on to say that “having millions of people wrap up all their fears into 140 characters and blurt them out in the public might have some dangerous consequences, networked panic being one of them.”

 

You can read Evgeny Morozov’s full article [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead]

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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