Positive Correlation Found Between Facebook Usage and Syphilis Infection

How long has it been since you ran an anti-virus scan? You'd better do it now because a recent study found that areas of Britain that show a heavy use of Facebook also show a great increase in the incidence of syphilis infection:

The virus has increased fourfold in Sunderland, Durham and Teesside, the areas of Britain where Facebook is most popular, because it has given people a new way to meet multiple partners for casual sexual encounters.

Professor Peter Kelly, director of public health in Teesside, said staff had found a link between social networking sites and the rise in cases, especially among young women.


Just to be careful, we did bloodwork on the Neatorama Facebook page, and it's completely clean and safe.

Link via Geekologie | Photo: CDC

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It's a fabricated story. The Sun took the research, which dealt with the cases of syphilis in Middlesbrough and connected them with the finding that other cities in the area had an above average usage of socian networks (not Middlesbrough, though!).
http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2904897/Sex-diseases-soaringbrdue-to-Facebook-romps.html

The professional journalists (and not blogging amateurs) at the Daily Telegraph proceeded to report, that the researchers had put this "finding" forward.
Then, the rest of the quality media spread the "news" across the globe

via http://www.bildblog.de/
(a German printmedia watchdog blog)
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"In summary, Professor Kelly's colleague says:

'Our press release was simply trying to highlight the risks of casual sex. We did not make the claim that social networking sites are causing the rise in the incidence of syphilis.'"

Source: http://is.gd/aYROy

Also: Nice slut-shaming going on in the Telegraph article.
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No one is arguing causation. Despite a popular internet meme giving it a bad connotation, correlation can be an important metric.

FTA:
"Social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex."

That is not an unreasonable theory. When casual sex becomes easier to find, incidences of unprotected casual sex, and thus infections are bound to increase.
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