If you want to know what’s up with the flu at the moment, you have a few choices: You can get the latest infor­ma­tion at . Or you can get the from the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, which is based on data that’s by now a couple of weeks old.

But a in the journal Sci­ence finds that quicker isn’t nec­es­sarily better.

This story started in 2008, when sci­en­tists at Google real­ized that they could mea­sure flu activity by tracking when people searched for flu-​​related terms. They cre­ated a handy site called Google Flu Trends. And it works pretty well — some of the time. But don’t bank on it.

It missed by a huge amount last year and actu­ally, it turns out, it’s been missing by a fair amount for sev­eral years,” says David Lazer, a pro­fessor of polit­ical sci­ence and com­puter sci­ence at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity. He says Google Flu Trend whiffed during the 2013 flu season.


Read the article at NPR →