April 15, 2010, 12:00 PM — It’s time for an episode of Mythbusters, social network style. Here are five things you may have heard or thought about Facebook (and its Web 2.0 cousins) that aren’t necessarily true.
* Using Facebook increases your chances of catching a sexually transmitted disease. (And you thought computer viruses were bad.) Yes, this report is real, though its accuracy is somewhat dubious. It seems a doctor in the UK noticed both an increase in the rate of STDs and an increase in patients admitting that they'd recently hooked up with sex partners via social networks. A couple of British tabloids got hold of this report and, ipso facto, Facebook gives you the clap. As a nameless Facebook spokeshuman told The Telegraph, "correlation is not causation." But you may want to get a latex cover for your keyboard, just in case.
* Using Facebook leads to divorce. This theory has a bit more horse under it, but again the causation isn't exactly rock solid. According to yet another UK report, some 20 percent of divorce suits filed in 2009 mentioned Facebook as a contributing factor to marital unhappiness. (Sounds like those Brits really need to get out more.) In an unhappy marriage, it would make sense that spouses are paying more attention to, and spending more time with, their Facebook friends than their significant others. (Of course, it doesn't hurt when your old high school flame is looking mighty fine in his/her profile picture.) That doesn’t mean Facebook caused the break up. Social networks are just a sexier thing for divorce attorneys to throw into the mix than, say, TV.