Amid the Facebook “Graph Search” controversy and a constant struggle with privacy features, a new app has been developed that permeates your friends’ personal lives on a whole new level. Introducing: “Help, I have the flu,” by pharmaceutical brand Help Remedies to assist in your finger-pointing this flu season.
The app greets you with a soothing green color, simple font, and kind message:
Hello. I’m sorry you have the flu.
Nothing will make you feel better like
finding somebody to blame. Use the
button below to find out who among
your friends is responsible for your
misery. Afterwards you may choose to
have them quarantined or if you are
particularly forgiving, send some help®.
The formula behind the app uses your friends’ Facebook activity, such as statuses and comments, to scan for potentially dangerous symptoms, such as “I’m tired,” or “Feeling under the weather.” Even night-owls aren’t safe, since the app takes late night activity into account, due to potentially weaker immune systems. Hitting a sketchy club one night? The app judges you for that check-in and labels you as high-risk. It then analyzes how likely it is that your friends have come in contact with you, based on news feeds, and determines whether or not you have given someone the flu.
The moral of the story here is: despite the fact that you may live in a city, take various forms of public transit every, and attend a university of 30,000 other students, one of your dirty friends probably made you sick and now you have a reason to be mad at them.
The 2012-2013 flu season has hit the city of Boston particularly hard this year, with Mayor Menino declaring a public health emergency on January 9, 2013, due to a tenfold increase in patients. Authorities claim that the cause of this national surge in flu cases is due to virulent strain A(H3), which is associated with a more severe and longer flu season. Hospitals have reported full rooms and limited beds, which are moving to hallways and waiting rooms to accommodate such a sudden spike in illness.
Despite being incredibly invasive and likely inaccurate, this app has potential for good. Perhaps out of fear of being put on said black list via the app, it can help raise flu awareness. While there are mass amounts of people attending Student Health Services’ Flu Shot Clinics thanks to practically daily emails, there always exists the group of people that seem to think they are invincible. They won’t get a flu shot. They won’t wear a coat outside or drink their orange juice. When they inevitably get the flu, they stubbornly go to class anyway.
Although there have been whispers of the outbreak subsiding, authorities are urging that precautions still must be taken. So please, people, wash your hands. If you have the flu, for the love of God, please stay home.