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Scientists take on Twitter

Social media comes into its own as a tool and a subject for study

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7:00pm, December 13, 2012

2012 SCIENCE NEWS TOP 25: 7

You might say science “friended” social media this year. But like many friendships, this one has its ups and downs.

On the one hand, platforms such as Twitter proved useful tools for tracking particular events in real time. Scientists at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston found, for example, that tweets about the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti tracked closely with official health reports (SN: 2/25/12, p. 16). Twitter chatter about the flu also closely matched the spread of the disease. And tapping into earthquake-related tweets allowed U.S. Geological Survey researchers to create a rough map of the shakiest spots in

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