We analyze over 500 million Twitter messages from an eight month period and find that tracking a small number of flu-related keywords allows us to forecast future influenza rates with high accuracy, obtaining a 95% correlation with national health statistics. We then analyze the robustness of this approach to spurious keyword matches, and we propose a document classification component to filter these misleading messages. We find that this document classifier can reduce error rates by over half in simulated false alarm experiments, though more research is needed to develop methods that are robust in cases of extremely high noise.


  author = {Aron Culotta},
  title = {Towards detecting influenza epidemics by analyzing {T}witter messages},
  booktitle = {KDD Workshop on Social Media Analytics},
  year = {2010},