twitter, web2.0 and communication about flu

Everything should be put into context

twitter is an online chat tool on which anything can be published and is not to be used for facts but for firsthand rumors, stories that will develop and buzz. Using it as a kind of news service is silly. Using it as an indicator or first alert (to be verified) source is interesting but you have to keep your distance.

the internet is also hosting masses of more credible and official news sources which are also mentioned and used by numerous of other official and news sources worldwide. If you want correct news that is official than you go there.

the official communication that is being distributed is only trustworthy if it is correct and put into context and without losing too much time (knowing that otherwise incorrect information could be spreading enormously fast by online twitters and headlines). In fact they have to follow the online rumor and newsstreams to be sure that incorrect information is not spreading too fast and will be corrected. It is important to do this.

the credible news sources have to concentrate on selecting the news from the rumor and checking the information and have to be very careful about the wording of their headlines - especially online. The goal should not be to have the most eyeballs getting headline - like in the newspaper but to be most factual and correct. The paper edition of the news source will have more resources and time to correct and check and adapt the story untill its final version while the online version will be written on the spot and without much doublechecking.If online news sources show themselves to be professional and trustworthy today, they will have kept or rewon a credibility that will have shown their usefulness. Collecting headlines with short texts that aren't verified is not a credible news source.

For the rest context is important

* the only real place where it leads to death is Mexico city but the reason for this has not been found yet although specialists are being sent over

* the number of deaths and sick people is far less than even the SARS crisis. In fact for the moment less than 10 people die every day from the virus in Mexico city (21 million habitants). I think there are lots of other viruses that kill more people over there each day than this one.

* the biggest fear factor is the lack of a cure and that this virus could change again in something even more dangerous. Also the fact that the virus has been spreading for some weeks before being noticed is worrisome.

meanwhile it is a very good example to test your pandemic plans and procedures and correct them afterwards. Like with conficker, the world won't fall down but there will be some difficulties and now we are learning if we are ready to cope with them together.

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