Have you seen all the tabloid headlines linking the rise of Facebook with increased rates of syphilis? The British newspapers, especially, have had a field day tying social media use with sexually transmitted diseases. Some perspective from Gawker:
Syphilis cases are up fourfold in parts of Britain where Facebook is most popular. Mere coincidence? The Telegraph newspaper thinks not, after consulting an expert.
The director of pubic health in Teeside, who is also some kind of professor, tells the paper, “several of the [Teeside infected] people had met sexual partners through these sites…. social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex.” Case closed. Log off of Facebook before the social networking site literally infects you directly. (Also, between this and Facebook’s teen-sex fight with the Daily Mail, the company needs to hire some British flacks, already.)
A Facebook spokesman writes us:
While it makes for interesting headlines, the assertions made in newspaper reports that Facebook is responsible for the transmission of STDs are ridiculous, exaggerate the comments made by the professor, and ignore the difference between correlation and causation. As Facebook’s more than 400 million users know, our Web site is not a place to meet people for casual sex – it’s a place for friends, family and coworkers to connect and share.
Also, note that the NHS release does not mention Facebook.