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Twitter Can Show Where You Go for Sex & Drugs, UCLA Study Says

Twitter Can Show Where You Go for Sex & Drugs, UCLA Study Says
File photo by Lucy Rendler-Kaplan/LA Weekly Flickr pool

It's bad enough that your mom is on Facebook. A new UCLA study says academics can track things like where people are going for sex and to "get high."

The researchers' intentions are good, however.

Because once they can figure out where all the "risky behavior" is happening, they can compare that to areas with high incidences of sexually transmitted diseases, specifically ... 

... HIV.

And with that, someday they might be able to warn you that your attraction to sex, drugs and certain locales might be a perfect storm of STDs.

As it stands, the UCLA Department of Family Medicine, in research published recently in the journal Preventive Medicine, looked at 550 million geo-located tweets from May 26 to Dec. 9 of 2012.

The academics found "8,538 tweets indicating sexually risky behavior and 1,342 suggesting stimulant drug use," according to the university.

Then they were able to figure out the geographic hotspots for risky tweets. Take a guess:

California, Texas, New York, and Florida - the big states - led the pack. Accounting for population, however, Utah, North Dakota and Nevada had the greatest portion of freaky tweets, UCLA says. Go figure.

summary of the research states:

When the researchers linked the tweets to data on HIV cases, they found a significant relationship between those indicating risky behavior and counties where the highest numbers of HIV cases were reported.

The researchers don't think their mapping, which links risky business to HIV hotspots, was ready for prime time yet because the most recent HIV data they were able to get was from 2009. 

However, don't be surprised to see a hot-spot map for this someday.

Sean Young, assistant professor of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA:

Ultimately, these methods suggest that we can use 'big data' from social media for remote monitoring and surveillance of HIV risk behaviors and potential outbreaks.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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