by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 31st 2008 9:33am
Last week there was a lot of ridiculous buzz trying to connect Facebook to a series of suicides in the UK. It's the sort of thing that newspapers love to run with. Facebook is popular, and parents are already worried about it, so link it to suicide and *bam* immediate interest in the story. Of course, an equally accurate story could be "Paper Industry Linked To Suicide After Many Victims All Leave Notes!" Yet, that doesn't stop some people from trying. Con von Hoffman writes in to point out that the UK story has migrated down under, with an Australian newspaper warning parents about Facebook suicides in the UK. The only problem, there doesn't seem to be any support to the actual story -- as even the Australian article notes... though, buried down in the fourth paragraph: "a police spokesman in Bridgend said there was no evidence to date of a suicide pact and that the theory did not come from police." Despite that, the article still says that "experts remain concerned there may be a connection between the suicides and social networking sites." Meanwhile, the article also quotes someone saying: "The more stories that appear about young people having killed themselves in your area, the more it might appear to you to be a reasonable response to a particular kind of crisis." So, perhaps the Australian paper is trying to turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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