Read All About It: Be Picky about Trusting Online Info

Business woman standing outside in front of office building, using mobile phone

In the good old days, if you read it, you could believe it. Sources were checked, facts were verified, and anything appearing in print was more than likely true.

But that was before the Wild West days of the Internet. Today, anyone with an opinion – no matter how ill-founded or bizarre – can post it as fact.

“… (I)n the stepped-up competition for readers, digital news sites are increasingly blurring the line between fact and fiction, and saying that it is all part of doing business in the rough-and-tumble world of online journalism,” commented Ravi Somaiya and Leslie Kaufman in the New York Times.

Universities are so concerned about the blurring of lines that they run courses to help students differentiate between fact and fiction. The Internet lists countless sites to help readers discriminate. You’d think people would be catching on, but they’re not.

In a recent Forbes article, Dan Ackman wrote: “According to a new survey, 52.8 percent of Internet users believe that most or all of the information online is “reliable and accurate.”

As Georgetown University warns: “Keep in mind that almost anyone can publish anything they wish on the Web. It is often difficult to determine authorship of Web sources, and even if the author is listed, he or she may not always represent him or herself honestly, or he or she may represent opinions as fact. The responsibility is on the user to evaluate resources effectively.”

So don’t believe everything you read. And remember, you read it here first.

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