Towards Real-Time Measurement of Public Epidemic Awareness: Monitoring Influenza Awareness through Twitter


This study analyzes temporal trends in Twitter data pertaining to both influenza awareness and influenza infection during the 2012–13 influenza season in the US. We make use of classifiers to distinguish tweets that express a personal infection (“sick with the flu”) versus a more general awareness (“worried about the flu”). While previous research has focused on estimating prevalence of influenza infection, little is known about trends in public awareness of the disease. Our analysis shows that infection and awareness have very different trends. In contrast to infection trends, awareness trends have little regional variation, and our experiments suggest that public awareness is primarily driven by news media.

AAAI Spring Symposium on Observational Studies through Social Media and Other Human-Generated Content