Debunking a Facebook divorce myth

Mar 14, 2011, 2:35 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

Every day there are several news stories that report something astonishing and include the phrase “according to a new study.”

Cancer rates are declining. Cancer rates are increasing. Chocolate is good for you. Chocolate is bad for you. Losing sleep causes accidents. No significant increase in accidents due to the time change.

News agencies often report these kinds of headlines as fact, even if the claim seems implausible. One study that seemed unlikely, yet was widely reported is this: Facebook causes 20 percent of divorces today.

KrafskyResearchers somewhere said it, press releases supported it, news agencies found experts to validate it. I ignored it. My friends Kelli and Jason Krafsky, authors who live in Maple Valley, looked deeper into it.

The Krafskys, who last year told me Facebook is the biggest threat to marriage, started picking a part the statement that “one in five divorces are linked to Facebook.”

They debunk the claim in their blog here, outlining how the story got started, how rigorous the research was, how social media spread the story, and finally whether there was any truth to the link between Facebook and the divorce statistics cited.

Their conclusion was that all those writing press releases about the topic achieved their goals. They got the media attention they wanted, but in the end Kelli tells me, “There is no valid research, study, survey or collection of data that accurately reveals how many divorces have been caused by Facebook. And there is no valid statistic to support the statement that one-in five divorces are caused by Facebook. Not in America, Not in the UK. Not anywhere.”

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Debunking a Facebook divorce myth