Tracking Swine Flu on Google, Twitter

In the wake of the outbreak of swine flu, a debate is emerging as to whether social networking sites and technology are just creating panic rather than helping the populace stay informed.

On Twitter, the terms “swine flu,” “#swineflu,” “CDC” and “Mexico” were among the top phrases used on the social messaging service on Monday, after the U.S. declared a public health emergency.

Google.org (GOOG) introduced Google Flu Trends at the end of 2008 as a way to keep Internet users informed about flu trends more rapidly than with traditional surveillance from the Centers for Disease Control. And with this recent outbreak, users can also use Google Maps to track the spread of swine flu as cases are reported across the world.

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