Google didn’t catch the flu

Google Flu Trends getting it wrongGoogle’s flu predicting service has been impressively accurate in the past, but failed to apprehend the most recent American outbreak.

Google Flu Trends, which estimates prevalence from flu-related Internet searches, had drastically overestimated peak flu levels.

Why?

problems may be due to widespread media coverage of this year’s severe US flu season, including the declaration of a public-health emergency by New York state last month. The press reports may have triggered many flu-related searches by people who were not ill.

This may become a useful cautionary tale in our dawning age of big data.

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