These days, when people start feeling a fever and a sore throat coming on, often times their first move isn’t to the med­i­cine cab­inet. Instead, it’s to a com­puter or smart­phone to Google their symptoms, News@Northeastern reports.

These queries, which make up only a tiny frac­tion of the more than 7 bil­lion total queries the search engine han­dles each day, are all stored by Google. The com­pany uses this data for a variety of rea­sons; it can help Google improve its search results for users—which also boosts the company’s bottom line—and can also ben­efit the pop­u­la­tion as a whole in other ways.

One example of the latter is Google Flu Trends, a sta­tis­tical model devel­oped by engi­neers at Google.org—the company’s foun­da­tional arm—in an effort to “now-​​cast” what’s hap­pening with the flu on any given day.

But research has shown that GFT often misses its target.

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eCampus News Staff


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