Published Date 11/21/11 6:35 AM
Twitter is one of today’s central hubs for the publishing, dissemination, and discovery of online media, whether user-generated content or news from traditional outlets. Either can vary widely in journalistic and scientific accuracy. The Swine Flu pandemic of 2009 highlighted this effect. Global events created a large online buzz, with some dubious medical facts leaking into public opinion. In a paper presented at the 2011 IEEE/WIC/ACM International Conferences on Web Intelligence and Intelligent Agent Technology, a team of researchers from City University London described its investigation of how online resources relating to Swine Flu were discussed on Twitter in real time, working to identify and analyze the popularity of trusted information sources like CNN, Reuters, USA Today and the World Health Organization versus nontraditional sources like blogs and social media posts. Authors Martin Szomszor, Patty Kostkova, and Connie St Louis conclude that reputable sources were demonstrably more popular than untrusted ones, but that information with poor scientific merit still leaked into network space where it had the potential to cause harm.
Papers from WI-IAT 2011 are available to Computer Society Digital Library subscribers at www.computer.org/csdl.