Friday, March 26, 2010

Casual Facebooking

In another piece of strange science news: Facebook is being linked to a rise in syphilis cases, especially among young women. Brings an entirely new meaning to poking your friends doesn't it?

Apparently cases of syphilis in Durham, Sunderland, and Teesside, all areas of Britain where the social networking site is the most popular, have increased fourfold.

Syphilis is caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum which is usually spread by sexual contact. The disease can be very serious, starting in the genital area, mouth, or other body parts, and can lead to major damage in the heart and brain and can even result in death. Having this disease can also make people more vulnerable to HIV. However, if caught early, it can be cured with antibiotics.

So why is the Internet and social media in particular to blame? Social networking sites, as their name suggests, make it easier for people to meet up for casual sex.

As the linked Telegraph article reports, a Facebook spokesman said: “The assertion that Facebook is responsible for the transmission of syphilis is ridiculous. Facebook is no more responsible for STD transmission than newspapers responsible for bad vision. Today’s reports 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 website is not a place to meet people for casual sex – it’s a place for friends, family and co-workers to connect and share.”

In my opinion, the Facebook guy kinda has a point. I mean, there is a huge difference between correlation and causation. Does social media make it easier to meet people? Sure. But those who are looking for casual sex are still going to find a partner regardless of their Internet connectivity right?

Here's the story link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/7508945/Facebook-linked-to-rise-in-syphilis.html

(image from embryology.med.unsw.edu.au)
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