Dec 2, 2021 - News

Twitter rants help scientists study red tide

Scientists studying the twitter logo on a blue background.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

It's no shocker that we turn to Twitter to complain about the effects of red tide: things like itchy eyes, coughing and dead fish.

Yes, but: Researchers studying our first major red tide event since social media became ubiquitous have found evidence that Twitter can be a trustworthy and fairly specific reflection of red tide's impacts.

How it happened: They compared Tweet activity during 2018's red tide β€” both geo-tagged posts and using locations from user profiles β€” to official K. brevis cell counts and dead fish levels and found a strong correlation.

Why it matters: Researchers say crowd-sourced data could be super useful in assessing and responding to red tide and potentially to other natural disasters.

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