Can ‘digital traces’ from internet searches and social media predict outbreaks of COVID-19?

Can 'digital traces' from internet searches and social media predict outbreaks of COVID-19?
A summary of our results at the county level.(A) Graphical representation of the different outcomes observed in our methods: early warnings, synchronous warnings, late warnings, soft warnings, missed outbreaks, warnings with increased activity, and false alarms. (B) Summary of the outbreak onset events. Horizontal bars are colored, from orange to purple, depending on the event class. (C) False alarms for the Naive, Single Source, and Multiple Source methods. The Multiple Source method produced the lowest amount of false alarms (110). (D) Probability of resurgence P(Rt > 1) and different events generated by the Naive, Single Source (Google Trends “How long does covid last?” and “side effects of vaccine”), and Multiple Source methods. (E) Earliness of the alarms triggered by each method. Bars represent the number of alarms within the out-of-sample time window. Credit: Science Advances (2023). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abq0199

Your Google searches and Twitter accounts alert marketers about what items you might like to purchase. But could they also serve as an early warning system when COVID-19 levels are about to take off?

A team of scientists including Northeastern University machine learning expert Mauricio Santillana says internet users’ “digital traces” can be adopted to alert public health officials to sharp increases in COVID-19 at the county level one to six weeks ahead of a major outbreak.

In a paper published Wednesday, Jan. 18, in Science Advances, Santillana and other authors say digital data will help close information gaps left by existing surveillance methods.

Analysis of the data streams will allow policymakers to get a jump on decisions such as whether to reissue masking recommendations or bump up vaccination and boosting campaigns, says Santillana, director of the Machine Intelligence Group for the Betterment of Health and the Environment

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Mars Drops M&M’s ‘Spokescandies’ After They ‘Break the Internet’

(Bloomberg) — A surprise announcement by Mars Inc. that it’s suspending “spokescandies” — talking M&M’s that star in the brand’s advertisements — is sparking speculation over whether it’s a reaction to conservative furor or a cheeky set-up for a Super Bowl ad.

Changes to the talking M&M’s early last year aimed at making them more inclusive prompted some conservatives, including Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, to criticize the brand for being “woke.” The brouhaha — which played out largely on social media — soon faded.

So Mars’s apparent decision to pull its mascots, only to replace them with comedian, former Saturday Night Live star and liberal darling Maya Rudolph, has ignited an online debate over the company’s intentions. Whatever the motives, the brand likely will welcome the buzz in the run-up to the Super Bowl on Feb. 12, when it’s set to air an ad.

The M&M’s brand says the move has been in the works for a while and isn’t a reaction, according to an emailed statement. Rudolph’s first appearance will be “a starring role” in the company’s Super Bowl campaign. “With Maya serving as the brand’s new spokesperson, this will allow the colorful cast of M&M’S spokescandies to step away and embrace a new path to pursue other passions.”

A Dec. 22 press release announcing the promo included an image featuring the silhouettes of the anthropomorphic M&M’s. On Monday, M&M’s said in a tweet it wasn’t sure “if anyone would even notice” the changes to the characters made last year. “And we definitely didn’t think it would break the internet. But now we get it — even a candy’s shoes can be polarizing.”

The shoes were a reference to the green M&M, a female character, switching to sneakers from high-heeled boots as part of the 2022 changes. Recently,

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Investigating problematic uses of Facebook and other Internet activities among university students in Bangladesh during the COVID-19 pandemic

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    Truist Analysts Like these 3 ‘Strong Buy’ Internet and Digital Media stocks for 2023

    We are now in 2022’s last trading sessions, bracketed by the Christmas and New Year holidays. The majority of investors will no doubt be happy to bid farewell to 2022 as it has been a rough ride for most segments of the market.

    Looking at the year ahead, Truist Securities’ 5-star stock expert Youssef Squali reminds investors of the need for caution, saying “many uncertainties remain.”

    He goes on to mention several of these, such as the extent and length of a potential recession, the size and duration of rate hikes and the resultant effects on cost of capital, currency headwinds, and industry changes such as cookie deprecation, which could “disrupt the growth trajectory of several verticals.”

    The last refers specifically to Squali’s area of expertise – Internet and Digital Media stocks. And here, despite these potential difficulties, Squali sees reason for investors to take an upbeat outlook. At least that is for specific names in the sector with the analyst noting that “not all Internet companies are created equal, making 2023 a year particularly suited for stock picking.”

    So, let’s go stock picking – starting with three picks from a couple of top analysts, including Squali, at Truist. Checking these stocks against the TipRanks data, we find that they are all Strong Buy-rated, featuring ample upside potential even in today’s unstable market environment. Here are the details.

    NerdWallet, Inc. (NRDS)

    We’ll start with a small-cap online personal financial company, NerdWallet. This company entered the public markets through an IPO held in November of 2021, and it offers its customers a wide range of online banking solutions, including personal loans and mortgages, credit cards, insurance products, personal and small business banking, and even student loan management. The company also provides personalized, unbiased, and actionable advice for customers

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    ‘Internet marketplaces are able to improve customer experience and create efficiencies’ – 15 quotes on digital

    Launched in 2014, StoryBites is a weekly feature from YourStory, featuring notable quotable quotes in our articles of this past week (see the previous edition here). This special series of quotes focuses on the increasing impact of digital media around the world. Share these 15 gems and insights with your colleagues and networks, and check back to the original articles for more insights.

    See also our pick of Top Quotes of 2022 on Entrepreneurship, Motivation, Investments, Women Changemakers, Social Entrepreneurs, Environmental Change, Pandemic Resilience, Digital Transformation, India Opportunities, Design, Art, Failure Lessons, and Storytelling.

    1

    No one should be denied an education because they lack resources, particularly in the age when technology is available to each and all. – Vivek Kankaria, Prepseed

    Digital tools and content in smart classrooms are key to enriching students’ learning. – Sumeet Mehta, LEAD

    Fintechs will continue to see investments driven by the strides in data available for lending though broad-based SME lending and invoice discounting will see consolidation. – Anup Jain, Orios Ventures

    In 2023, we expect agritech innovations in three areas to gain momentum—agri deep tech, agrifood life sciences (AFLS), and rural fintech. – Mark Kahn, Omnivore

    Innovation is critical in creating a smart city. So not just the minds of the people, but also technology to actually create change is very important. – Yuma Saito, Deloitte Tohmatsu Venture Support

    Visual appeal will dominate the online shopping experience and we are already seeing signs of the transition. – Anant Vidur Puri, Bessemer Venture Partners

    The metaverse will profoundly change every part of every business, bridging our physical and digital worlds. – Julie Sweet, Accenture

    We believe the metaverse has the potential to fundamentally change the way we communicate and collaborate, overcoming limitations of the physical world to deliver enhanced connections for everyone. –

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