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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

Facebook maps the swine flu hysteria

Updated at 11:30 p.m. PDT: This blog misreported the percentage of swine flu interest on Facebook member pages in the states of Texas and Mississippi. The correct percentages are 0.82 percent and 0.29 percent, respectively.

There have been a lot of resources that have surfaced to help track the newly spreading swine flu. On Monday, we covered some of these online resources to help you stay on top of it. Tuesday night, Facebook released some interesting data on the conversations taking place around the swine flu outbreak. The company has posted a photo album on Facebook's official fan page, containing images that detail the growth of the discussion as well as the geographical distribution of people talking about swine flu.

As this image shows us, there is a wide range in the percentage of people talking about swine flu in wall posts from state to state. Texas has 0.82 percent of its Facebook users mentioning swine flu, while Mississippi only has 0.29 percent. Hotbeds for the outbreak, such as California, Texas, and New York obviously show the greatest concentration of users discussing swine flu. The numbers in Canada are significantly lower than those in the U.S., obviously showing that the Canucks aren't getting as concerned yet.

All of this data was generated using Facebook's Lexicon service, which tracks how frequently certain terms are mentioned in wall posts. The Facebook data definitely gives us a better understanding of who is talking about the outbreak and can help us to visualize the spread of information on the subject.

The role that social media has played in the spread of information throughout the swine flu outbreak has been significant. Some would argue that social media has helped to fuel the fire, along with the constant coverage on the news. For better or for worse, social media is likely to be one of the primary mediums through which information spreads in a crisis moving forward.

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