Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Sun, syphilis and social networking

The Sun's front page today contained what may well become a classic headline:

No, not the 'scanner', but the one at the side. Facebook 'spreads syphilis'.

Presumably that's on top of the cancer Facebook will give you if you believe the Mail.

The Sun said:

Cases of syphilis have increased four-fold in Britain's Facebook capital as users meet up for unprotected sex, it was revealed yesterday.

Figures released last month showed that people in Sunderland, Durham and Teesside were 25 per cent more likely to log on regularly.

And an NHS trust chief said Facebook and similar sites were to blame for a shocking rise in cases of potentially-lethal syphilis in the region.

Except, that's not quite true. The original statement from NHS Middlesborough doesn't mention Facebook at all. It does say:

Unprotected sex, especially with casual partners, is the biggest risk for syphilis. Social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex. It is important that people avoid high risk sexual behaviours and practise safe sex to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections.

Which sounds like unprotected sex is being blamed for the rise. Not Facebook.

Why have certain sections of the media become so obsessed with blaming the social networking site for everything going?

And more importantly, does the Sun think that stories about sexual health are unimportant unless they're linked to some topical, but totally irrelevant, hook?

The Sun's attack on Facebook is even more pathetic given that the agenda behind it is so obvious - rival social networking site Myspace is owned by Rupert Murdoch.

The Telegraph and Mail were quick to follow the Sun's lead and mindlessly repeated the story. But the reader comments were very critical of this nonsense.

Delightfully, however, the Mail moderators let through this comment which mentions this blog. And no, I didn't write it:

Thank you Scott - and all the green arrow clickers.

(More on the syphilis story from Dr Petra Boynton. And thanks to Jeff Pickthall for spotting the comment.)


  1. Quite a few absolutely hilarious comments got past Daily Mail moderation actually. Not sure how long they'll last but this one is marvellous!

    "You are going to get sued. You are trying to destroy our business. We know this is because you owned a share in ITV and get hosed with Friends Reunited and are still ticked off about it. As you've blamed us for STDs, kiddie fiddling and cancer we're going to absolutely stamp on your heads in court and sue for billions.

    P.S. We also know you stick the word Facebook into every headline in order to bump your Google rating up. So you're making money by besmirching our good name."

    - Facebook (not really), USA, 24/3/2010 16:20

  2. They're on a real anti-FB kick at the moment:

  3. Death throes of a once relevant industry

  4. Scott Mitchell (member of the Facebook Anti-Daily Mail Coalition)27 March 2010 at 11:33

    No problem Mr McGuffin.

    I wish I had remembered to post MailWatch and The-Sun-Lies (for completeness) as well.

    Much as I detest the Mail, I cannot help but admit that I enjoy looking for unmoderated comment areas, so I can give the Mail a verbal shoeing whenever possible. I doubt I'm the only one. The Mail deserves to be pitied, not loathed, surely no-one of sound mind could believe half the crap it writes, or miss its obvious agenda.

    Surely Dacre is in cahoots with Murdoch's peons.

    Scott Mitchell, Paisley


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