Twitter and other social networks are creating a swine-flu panic out of a molehill with their instantaneous updates, Robert X. Cringely writes for InfoWorld. The quick flow of less-than-dependable information means “people with head colds decide they're really dying from a porcine-borne bug and flood emergency rooms.” And such a strain of internet-enabled paranoia could be a boon for cyberterrorists.
The Centers for Disease Control also Tweets—“20 confirmed cases of swine flu in U.S. 1 hospitalized. All have fully recovered”—but not with the fervor of terrified users—and that’s the problem. The agency “only Tweets when it actually has something to say,” Cringely writes. At the same time, swine flu-related posts are “coming in at the rate of around 20 per minute. That’s a rumor/panic/speculation-to-information ratio of more than 16,000 to 1.”