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Information About Google Flu Trend Tracker

Google Launches Flu Tracker to Analyze Search Trends

This week, Google launched its newest health-related project — the Google Flu Trends tracker. The Internet giant's philanthropic arm,, is tracking people's searches for terms like "flu symptoms," "thermometer" or "flu diagnosis" as indicators of parts of the country where there may be flu activity. According to the site, it will have the ability to "estimate flu activity in your state up to two weeks faster than traditional flu surveillance systems." They worked with the CDC to test their accuracy and are confident that it will be a helpful tool this flu season.

Some are skeptical of the tracker's accuracy, while others worry that it shouldn't be relied on because the at risk elderly population won't be searching on the Internet. Still others are a little worried about the big brother reminiscent aspects of Google working with the government to track search. While Google has had search trends visible for a while, this seems like a more drilled down focus on them. So what do you think about Google Flu Trends tracker, helpful tool or does it feel like an invasion of privacy?


Join The Conversation
True-Song True-Song 8 years
Okay, random... What's with the stories lately?
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 8 years
I don't really see how this is any different for all the information google collects about you everytime you do a search. They know your ip address, your location, what other searches you do. It's really nuts how much information they gather. Of course it's very helpful for my line of work, but if you're worried about tracking flu trends you should be worried about everything else they do!
I lost all respect for Google when they caved to the Chinese government.
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
i agree with starangel as well! I think it would be really cool!
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
Why thank you Jude. :) Haninan - I don't think it's perfect science either. Just a reporting of facts. I did watch their trending video in the FAQs... it was quite interesting.
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
I think that is awesome, and about the reliability of it, I don't think anyone would trust this as a perfect science...
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
Agreed, starangel. Also, I like your avatar.
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
I think as long as private information about the patients isn't disclosed, then it isn't an invasion of privacy. Hospitals are required to send flu diagnoses to the CDC anyway. I don't see anything wrong with Google working with them to track the trends. This could actually be a helpful tool because you can see the South already has cases of the flu, so people there need to start getting their flu shots. (Several clinics I work with have had several cases.) Other states may need to wait since it takes 2 weeks for the flu shot to truly enter your system and only has a viability of 3 months. Since you can only get one flu shot year, it is helpful to know when to get yours.
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