Facebook does not cause sexually transmitted diseases

Mar 26, 2010, 1:37 PM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

Facebook says it doesn’t cause syphilis any more than newspapers cause bad vision.

Why is the social networking site making such a statement today?

Earlier this week a British researcher made a link between Facebook and sexually transmitted diseases. Professor Peter Kelly, public health director in Teesside, said earlier this week cases of syphilis have increased four-fold because so many people are using Facebook to meet up for unprotected sex.

imagesThe story made for sensational headlines all around the world. There are over 110,000 sites that published the story this week. We mentioned it on 97.3 KIRO FM too.

But Kelly’s claim is outrageous. Even if statistics show a significant increase in STDs, he offered no proof social networking was the cause. Kelly, questioned about the research, admitted that he can’t show a direct connection between those on Facebook and those who transmit STDs.

Facebook considered suing Kelly. Instead, the company’s PR guy Andrew Noyes talked to TechCrunch and then issued a statement which reads: “The assertion that Facebook is responsible for the transmission of STDs is ridiculous…The reports exaggerate the comments made by the professor, and ignore the difference between correlation and causation.”

Facebook isn’t responsible for what people do. I do think it has made it easier for people to hook up for all kinds of things – friendship, catching up with high school or college friends, and cheating. Next week I’ll be talking with a Seattle-area couple who just published a book about Facebook and marriage. They say the social networking site can help marriages in some ways too.

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Facebook does not cause sexually transmitted diseases