Wednesday, 24 March 2010

FaceBONK, more like!

You'd think they might learn something, wouldn't you? A couple of weeks ago the Mail singled out and named Facebook in an article about the dangers of evil paedos trawling the internet, in a story which completely misrepresented its source, as covered nicely here at Enemies Of Reason. The Mail was forced into a pretty humbling apology in that instance when it turned out that the report the story was based on was explicitly about a site that wasn't Facebook.

So I was surprised (wait, surprised is the wrong word...depressed?) to see the Mail again picking out Facebook for special scorn in today's marvellously-titled Facebook 'sex encounters' linked to rise in syphilis, which, as the title suggests, attributes the rise in syphilis in parts of the North East to the fact that Facebook is popular there. The first three paragraphs really hammer this point home:
Facebook has been linked to a resurgence of the sexually-transmitted disease syphilis.

The virus has increased fourfold in Sunderland, Durham and Teesside, the areas of Britain where the website is most popular.

Medics believe Facebook and other social networking sites make it easier for strangers to meet multiple partners for casual sexual encounters.
Got it? FACEBOOK! The Telegraph have taken a similar tack as well. However, go to a less scaremongering source, such as the Press Association and you won't find a mention of Facebook at all.

While it's fair to say that 'medics' (well, one at least), seem to have given some quotes connecting the two rises, the guy who gives the quote never mentions Facebook by name. And probably for good reason; Facebook isn't really a casual dating site, profiles are mostly protected and for the most part I've never really got the vibe there that I'm one click away from finding someone I can disappoint up against a bin later that evening. Isn't that what Gumtree and Plenty Of Fish are for?

Regardless, there's precious little evidence here that it's Facebook in particular that's responsible for syphilis. So why do the Mail insist on mentioning Facebook in all these non-specific stories (see also Burglars will burgle the fuck out of you if you're not careful on Facebook!), to the extent that it made my Mail-reading mum the other day idly call for Facebook to be banned at the dinner table? (Little insight into to the inspiration for this blog, there...)

I guess partly it's because it's the one everyone's heard of, and it makes everyone who reads it able to relate a little more to the story, and partly because OH MY FUCKING GOD I SAW MY DAUGHTER ON FACEBOOK THE OTHER DAY WHAT IF SHE HAS THAT AIDS NOW?! However, a cynic might also suggest that putting the word 'Facebook' in your article is a good way to get more precious Google hits, and that's why Girls Aloud upskirt Messi hat-trick Lady Gaga video Twitter sex Olympics tickets Tiger Woods.


  1. Here's the original announcement from NHS Middlesbrough:

    No mention of Facebook, of course.

  2. Test comment!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Congratulations, you are now the only google result for the phrase "Twitter sex olympics". Also, great post

  5. Woohoo, I'll be famous once the real Twitter Sex Olympics start!

  6. you've probably seen this already, but just in case...

    love your work :)