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Social Media- and Internet-Based Disease Surveillance for Public Health


Aiello, Allison E.; Renson, Audrey; & Zivich, Paul N. (2020). Social Media- and Internet-Based Disease Surveillance for Public Health. Annual Review of Public Health, 41, 101-18.


Disease surveillance systems are a cornerstone of public health tracking and prevention. This review addresses the use, promise, perils, and ethics of social media- and Internet-based data collection for public health surveillance. Our review highlights untapped opportunities for integrating digital surveillance in public health and current applications that could be improved through better integration, validation, and clarity on rules surrounding ethical considerations. Promising developments include hybrid systems that couple traditional surveillance data with data from search queries, social media posts, and crowdsourcing. In the future, it will be important to identify opportunities for public and private partnerships, train public health experts in data science, reduce biases related to digital data (gathered from Internet use, wearable devices, etc.), and address privacy. We are on the precipice of an unprecedented opportunity to track, predict, and prevent global disease burdens in the population using digital data.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Annual Review of Public Health


Aiello, Allison E.
Renson, Audrey
Zivich, Paul N.

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