Online Social Media May Help to Predict and Track Diseases

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

A paper written by computer scientists at the University of Rochester explains how researchers were able to use the locations of a person’s friends to establish – with 85 percent accuracy – that person’s location within an approximately 330-foot radius. The research team now plans to put their findings to work predicting and tracking how communicable diseases are spread.

It’s harder than most people think it is to protect our privacy online, but there are ways to use this new reality for good.”

— Henry Kautz, chairman of the Department of Computer Science

The authors of the paper, entitled “Finding Your Friends and Following Them to Where You Are,” also report that even with a private Twitter profile, it was possible to correctly predict the user’s Twitter friendships as much as 90 percent of the time.

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© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.


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