ANCHOR LEAD: LOOKING AT TWITTER POSTS TELLS US ABOUT PUBLIC HEALTH, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Twitter doesn't just topple regimes, it also reveals much about public health. That's according to research by Mark Dredze and colleagues at Johns Hopkins.
DREDZE: The first thing we found was that people on Twitter are discussing their health, and that by looking at lots of data we can measure something about the health of the population. We found that people were talking about the flu or allergies and based on when they were talking about it we could track the rates of flu or the rates of allergies over time by geographic region in the United States. We found that people were using antibiotics to treat the flu, whereas we know antibiotics should only be used to treat infection. :33
Dredze says searching Twitter posts enables researchers to see what people are actually doing, rather than what they are trying to find, which may be revealed by Google searches. At Johns Hopkins, I'm Elizabeth Tracey.