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March 25, 2010

Facebook causes syphilis? The Web smirks

Posted: 03:50 PM ET

Do you think risky behavior and a lack of proper medical attention caused that unfortunate case of syphilis?

Not so fast – a health official in England says it might have been Facebook.

A public health director recently told London’s The Telegraph that a rise in sexually transmitted diseases in his area could be linked to the fact that sites such as Facebook are popular there.

"Social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex,” Peter Kelly, director of public health in Teesside, said according to a Wednesday article in the paper.

The story, which appeared in numerous British tabloids, was met with smirks online. Social-networking site Mashable called the report “stretched at best.”

Blog TechCrunch called the story “dubious” in a post titled, “Calm down. Facebook doesn’t cause syphilis.”

Meanwhile, Facebook called the reports ludicrous.

“While it makes for interesting headlines, the assertions made in newspaper reports that Facebook is responsible for the transmission of STDs are ridiculous, exaggerate the comments made by the professor, and ignore the difference between correlation and causation,” said Facebook spokesperson Andrew Noyes in a written statement.

“As Facebook’s more than 400 million users know, our Web site is not a place to meet people for casual sex – it’s a place for friends, family and coworkers to connect and share.”

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Filed under: Facebook • Internet • social-networking sites

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Ubik   March 25th, 2010 4:12 pm ET

That's like someone a hundred years ago stating that the telephone causes syphilis. Totally ridiculous.

Bubba   March 25th, 2010 4:14 pm ET

Never ignore the difference between correlation and castration.

Shane   March 25th, 2010 4:22 pm ET

I thought Brittney Spears was the cause of syphillis?!?

brandon   March 25th, 2010 4:22 pm ET

no no no, telephones and facebook don't cause syphilis. it's the government's super secret radioactive waves that do it! wait while I don my tinfoil hat real quick....

brandon   March 25th, 2010 4:22 pm ET


No, that would be Lindsay Lohan.

Shane   March 25th, 2010 4:24 pm ET

and/or Lindays mother

Domine   March 25th, 2010 4:25 pm ET

That's silly! Everyone knows it is MY SPACE that causes Syphilis!!!

Courtney   March 25th, 2010 4:26 pm ET


Stevie889998   March 25th, 2010 4:30 pm ET

I can see how this would make sense, but if those people are going to sleep around, there are other ways of meeting people/staying in touch. You could say email causes it. Or the phone book.

jay   March 25th, 2010 4:35 pm ET

sure it does...

michael   March 25th, 2010 4:37 pm ET

LOL. syphillis from facebook? cmon now.. you call urself a health official?

dont blame random famous companies/blogs/online sources for people getting syphillis.

Kevin   March 25th, 2010 4:40 pm ET

Nobody talks about UTube giving people AIDS

DougGorius   March 25th, 2010 4:43 pm ET

This is as ridiculous as the theories about video games being the cause of violence among kids/teens.

Robin Bray   March 25th, 2010 4:44 pm ET

And I just thought it caused boredom and hate mail.

Martell Conley   March 25th, 2010 4:44 pm ET

Genitals cause syphillis

Don in SF   March 25th, 2010 4:47 pm ET

facebook - the modern day toilet seat

sara   March 25th, 2010 4:48 pm ET

@Kevin, clearly, we need to focus more on that:p

Paris Hilton   March 25th, 2010 4:49 pm ET

I cause syphilis.

oldfool   March 25th, 2010 4:50 pm ET

There are republicans in England??

Roger Wilco   March 25th, 2010 4:50 pm ET

rofl at Paris

Elliot   March 25th, 2010 4:54 pm ET

I thought penises caused syphilis

John Sonpull   March 25th, 2010 5:03 pm ET

It only causes idiocy. I wish it caused syphilis. at least there's a cure for that.

Nico   March 25th, 2010 5:07 pm ET

I'm pretty sure that's a logical fallacy. Hm.

Phil   March 25th, 2010 5:08 pm ET

This is true. Facebook killed my parents. And gave me Chlamydia.

Paul   March 25th, 2010 5:08 pm ET

Wow! This guy sounds completely uneducated! how can facebook cause syphilis??

mimi   March 25th, 2010 5:11 pm ET

since facebook is causin syphilus yahoo wil then be causin gonnorhea

"The Referee"   March 25th, 2010 5:12 pm ET

Facebook got me drunk one night, forced me to read banal status updates and never called me back.

And now it burns when I pee.

boom boom   March 25th, 2010 5:16 pm ET


Lori   March 25th, 2010 5:23 pm ET

So does this mean that my computer has syphilus?

oh man...

animal   March 25th, 2010 5:23 pm ET

Actually I think it's the seats in rental cars.... 😀

stacie   March 25th, 2010 5:26 pm ET

yall some nasty people on here

RB   March 25th, 2010 5:34 pm ET

THAT'S what that rash is!

Chris   March 25th, 2010 5:34 pm ET

See honey, it wasn't the countless women I slept with. It was your facebook use!

Tiaan   March 25th, 2010 5:40 pm ET

spirochetes & people passing them along are syphilis.......find the one that got it from the sheep!

womanseekingman   March 25th, 2010 5:41 pm ET

It is actually Craigs List, not Facebook, that is causing the recent upsurge in STDs......

yeah   March 25th, 2010 5:45 pm ET

Is actually main cause of butt-spread.

Mark McKee   March 25th, 2010 5:47 pm ET

a social networking disease, I'm sure it won't be the last.

Josh   March 25th, 2010 5:51 pm ET

If anything caused it, it was WoW

Shane   March 25th, 2010 6:00 pm ET

Will Mcaffee or Norton cure syphillis??

P.Ellen   March 25th, 2010 6:03 pm ET

A pox on your keyboards

Scott   March 25th, 2010 6:05 pm ET

Yeah! As everyone knows, you get syphilis off of Craigslist....

Naij   March 25th, 2010 6:06 pm ET

syphilis is caused by obama and the liberal least thats what i got from the last tea party rally i attended. haha

Hawhawhaw   March 25th, 2010 6:07 pm ET

"March 25th, 2010 5:16 pm ET

Actually tractors cause gonorrhea, not syphilis... 😉

laz   March 25th, 2010 6:12 pm ET

LOL - these people will say anything to get attention and feel important. It's ridiculous.

Edna   March 25th, 2010 6:20 pm ET

hmmm... I wonder if you can get pregnant too? =& lol

Me   March 25th, 2010 6:32 pm ET

You all say what you want. But just last week I went to the doctor and discovered that I had only partner since my last check up? Facebook. Facts are facts for a reason people!

womanseekingman   March 25th, 2010 6:33 pm ET


You sure can. Why, I have a sister who got pregnant by just listening to her voice mail......

Edumacated Siyentist   March 25th, 2010 6:35 pm ET

I applaude this fine scholar for finally shedding light on this serious issue. The internets is sereeus biznus.

SVee   March 25th, 2010 6:57 pm ET

Absolutely ridiculous,,,lol to the max!

Patti   March 25th, 2010 7:00 pm ET

If I find out after being abstinent for 3 years Face Book and I find out I have any social disease! I'm going to sue you!

What a crock to blame face book! it's the people who just don't give a hoot who they sleep with! Never mind the dating sites, i'm sure their all very clean people! lol!

russ   March 25th, 2010 7:01 pm ET

then what do you get from the google?

GOP   March 25th, 2010 7:10 pm ET

Republicans have invaded England!

Dan   March 25th, 2010 7:17 pm ET

No, really its MySpace that spreads syphllis. We may really start seeing a big drop in cases.

Coolface   March 25th, 2010 7:18 pm ET

And I assume that Craigslist provides the cure for it.

Finn   March 25th, 2010 7:27 pm ET

I blame my STD on Jose Cuervo.One tequila.. Two Tequila..Three Teqila ..Wh*re!

ForReal   March 25th, 2010 7:28 pm ET

And it was the air planes at Tuskegee that cause syphilis during that time.

Alice   March 25th, 2010 7:51 pm ET

And if you leave a pile of rags in a corner, it grows mouse babies...

dawson   March 25th, 2010 7:56 pm ET

funny stuff!

Vienners   March 25th, 2010 8:02 pm ET

They got it all wrong. Its Obama's health care plans thats causing syphilis? Don't believe?

Ask any Republican!!!!

jodie   March 25th, 2010 8:09 pm ET

That is the most retarded thing ever said. Where did the health official get his degree, from a a crackjack box?

Snowflake   March 25th, 2010 8:27 pm ET

No baby, i never was facebook i swear....beat him up.
i can see where this dude is trying to come from, that people talking more to new people can possibly lead to more hooking up...but really....causing a rise in STDs....come on now.....ridiculoso mr. english health official.

Jared   March 25th, 2010 8:52 pm ET

Wow, this is probably one of the most entertaining comment section I've good work all

leebo   March 25th, 2010 9:12 pm ET

sit on my facebook

Vespo   March 25th, 2010 9:12 pm ET

Nonsense, everyone knows that facebook only causes herpes, and the occasional itchy rash in unlikely places. YouTube causes Syphillis, and Google causes Gonorrhea. You don't even wat to know what you can get from ebay!

Nikki   March 25th, 2010 9:17 pm ET

I think that this is the first comment thread I've read in a long time that people are not trying to kill each over. Finally we all agree on something. WooHoo!

Tonina   March 25th, 2010 9:20 pm ET

The story was funny. The comments were hysterical. Thanks y'all.

And I think it's important that we create some literature to alert social media users to the dangers of social media diseases. We need to get the word out to impressionable middle schoolers through useful brochures, like "What You Need to Know About Digitally Transmitted Diseases." Facebook-born syphilis is an important public health issue for today's youth!

poo   March 25th, 2010 9:49 pm ET

Bauz and Wienaz

okila   March 25th, 2010 9:50 pm ET

And world of war crat causes blue balls.

Shistar   March 26th, 2010 12:43 am ET

LOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!! *dies* omg best stuff ever. This made my day and the comments OMG. XDDD

Greg   March 26th, 2010 1:27 am ET

I blame HAARP.

Darbel   March 26th, 2010 3:01 am ET

And Haiti is a super power ,get realll,lol

daz   March 26th, 2010 4:25 am ET

and yahoo causes breast cancer and google causes the flu

rojazz   March 26th, 2010 6:34 am ET

good mix of wild insinuation,
untamed idiocy &mental fatigue.still ....never say never!

Guest   March 26th, 2010 7:00 am ET


chatroulette causes HIV/AIDS then!

Randy Holder   March 26th, 2010 7:05 am ET

Syphillis was a Roman senator, right??

Lolita   March 26th, 2010 7:12 am ET

Yes! Finally everyone knows Facebook causes STDs!
And don't vaccinate your babies people! It causes SIDS, retardation and behavioral problems!
And don't be a doner on your driver license because the EMTS won't save you!


Mel   March 26th, 2010 8:17 am ET

I always get the "clap" (clap! clap! clap! Get it? LOL) whenever I comment on here.............from the other posters who like my comments! (Well, not always!)

Addison   March 26th, 2010 8:27 am ET

I think the point is being missed here. I doubt anyone with half a thought, let alone a doctor with years of medical training would assert that Facebook directly causes Syphilis. I believe that he means that social networking sites such as Facebook indirectly are enabling youths to more easily link up. No matter what Facebook asserts; Who hasn't used Facebook to link up?

Lolita   March 26th, 2010 8:51 am ET

I know that Addison, we all do but the whole thing is so ridiculous, Bars, cafes, restaurants, concerts, clubs, anything social are used for potential hook ups too. It's human nature not facebook, if anything causing v.ds

Maribeth   March 26th, 2010 9:33 am ET

Is he kidding?? People are responsible for their own behavior and on top of that, FB is not a dating site. And people are responsible for themselves!

shiftayoung   March 26th, 2010 10:29 am ET

facebook made me pregnant n am a guy!! My space causes Syphilis!

Mark8252   March 26th, 2010 10:32 am ET

People meet each other in a bazillion differant ways. How you meet makes no differeance. Its what you do afterward that matters.

peejhiggy   March 26th, 2010 10:46 am ET

That's so stupid. If that's the case ALL communication devices cause syphilis.

Whiteboyslim   March 26th, 2010 11:36 am ET

...... there was this one time when I was at band camp ....

Chris   March 26th, 2010 12:14 pm ET

This is Obama's fault.

omd   March 26th, 2010 12:42 pm ET

No no no no! It was Joe the Plumber!

Friday’s Conversation Topics | aLoveLinksPlus Blog   March 26th, 2010 1:15 pm ET

[...] Facebook can give you syphilis. Yes, sadly this is a true, weird story. Or a lame-assed grab at some headlines on a slow news day. [...]

Mike   March 26th, 2010 2:50 pm ET

Anyone who used facebook in the beginning (see knows that this was the original use. It was only open to college students and thats what it was used for, to meet new people and get laid. Then they let in high schoolers... then everyone... people started making pet profiles and such nonsense. This is not news.

Helene   March 26th, 2010 3:28 pm ET

Stop licking and kissing your screen

Mim   March 26th, 2010 4:01 pm ET

CNN actually is the cause!!!!

Carl   March 26th, 2010 4:31 pm ET

white people are the cause of syphilis, and pretty much all of the worlds problems in last 100years

rj   March 27th, 2010 4:49 pm ET

Gives whole new meaning to computer virus! What is next? Herpes from Spam emails?

dleary   March 27th, 2010 6:13 pm ET

The myth of syphilis: if you push your Facebook page uphill, it will always roll back down and land on your toilet seat.

lucky mailer   March 27th, 2010 8:06 pm ET

this seems
like fodder
for the gristmill of prolific playwright
latest cyber investigation via the live stage

SAN FRANCISCO & LA have seen it
now MANHATTAN is in rehearsal

Jay   March 30th, 2010 10:44 am ET

I got herpes from FarmVille!

enzo franconi   March 30th, 2010 7:14 pm ET


Facebook gets you laid. Period.

The syphilis risk is just the same for all encounters, you just get more of the action.

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