Gluten-free community on Twitter helps celiac disease sufferers
A new study has found that people with celiac disease are turning to social media networks to connect with others and get help. Data mining has shown that they use common hashtags on Twitter to find information and share their experiences. A researcher from the University of Warwick reveals that some of the most common questions are about finding gluten-free places to eat.
A celiac disease community has formed on Twitter, and Sam Martin, who is the researcher in charge of the study, believes it will continue to grow. It is easy to add a hashtag such as #celiac to a tweet and ask questions about safe restaurants in a city. People are turning to each other for help instead of websites or official publications.
Martin considers the information network that has formed online to be an important tool for people with celiac disease. Questions are being answered, data is being shared, and Twitter is being used frequently. The information that is available influences people’s decisions and helps them sort through options. People turn to those who seem to have the right answers, but they do not always follow them officially on Twitter. Instead, they seek out instant gratification by wanting to know where to find a gluten-free restaurant near them or what to order from a local menu.
The communities that form on social media sites can help people feel connected to others suffering from the same disorder. However, it is still important to verify the information being shared on Twitter or Facebook. Hoaxes and wrong data can easily spread online, so research is required. Although social media can provide answers and help people manage celiac disease, it is not a replacement for doctors’ appointments or valid medical advice.
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