Facebook dismisses syphilis link
The social network says that a correlation with the rise of venereal disease is not the same as causation
Social network Facebook has said that reports linking the site’s rise to an increased incidence of the bacterial infection syphilis are "ridiculous".
After widespread media reports that the venereal disease has increased fourfold in Sunderland, Durham and Teesside, the areas of the UK where Facebook is most popular, the network issued a statement saying that “Facebook is no more responsible for STD transmission than newspapers are responsible for bad vision.”
Professor Peter Kelly, director of public health in Teesside, had said staff had found a link between social networking sites and the rise in cases, especially among young women, suggesting that Facebook had given people a new way to meet multiple partners for casual sexual encounters.
"I don't get the names of people affected, just figures, and I saw that several of the people had met sexual partners through these sites,” said Prof Kelly.
"Social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex."
Facebook, however, said that Prof Kelly had been misrepresented: “Today’s reports exaggerate the comments made by the professor, and ignore the difference between correlation and causation,” said a spokesman.
The social network also pointed out that the dramatic rise in social networking over the past two years meant that Facebook’s rise could be correlated with any other increased trend in the UK.
That did not, however, suggest a causal link, the site said. Approximately 23 million Briton’s are now Facebook members.