Is the reliability of information on the internet guaranteed?

Imagine that you want to learn what Murphy’s Law is. You go to Google, type “Murphy’s Law” and your first result is probably Wikipedia. You open it, and with the summary that you see there you leave the page pleased with what you found. Sometimes you consult a second website to enrich the lesson learned. However, not in every case can you take the reliability of the information on the Internet for granted.

The task is not so simple when you want to find reliable information about a person. If we are not talking about celebrities, you will probably have to rely on journalistic websites or blog records where someone talked about that individual, about his/her personal life or professional career..

But what usually happens is that we end up relying on the profiles available on social networks. There, we have other issues regarding credibility: nicknames, fake profiles, interest-modified identities, bots.

Not knowing who issues information on the Internet is a common attack to reliability. One thing is the opinion on astronomy from a verified Twitter account of a Doctor of Science, another very different one is what says a user named @ daddysnumber1 whose profile picture is a cartoon.

Ways of deceit on the Internet

Fake News

Fake news is a fashionable concept, but that doesn’t mean it is not a serious thing. The desire to viralize content on social networks or position them in search engines can lead to the production of unreliable information.

Among the objectives of publishing fake news is the intention of damaging a person’s image, or achieve clickbait: view’s record on a web page. Here we recommend 5 tricks to avoid falling for them.

5 Tips against Fake news
Fake news directly threatens the reliability of information online.

Traditional social networks mechanisms, user’s ignorance and personal and social prejudices are the three fundamental wildfire factors here. The easily spread false news on social networks, thus lowering even more the reliability of information online.

The ability to manipulate photos, images and videos contributes to create an erroneous sense of credibility around those fake news. One image is worth a thousand words, right? If we know how desktop, web or mobile applications allow to modify photos … … then we should rethink the visual messages used as evidence in times of the Internet.

Deep Fake

Forging a video file to make it look like a person is saying things they haven’t said is much less complicated than before. Image processing technology has evolved to the point that the results are chilling.

This video is a demonstration of how credible Deep Fake can turn out. The subject of analysis in this case is Barack Obama, but other personalities and influencers have been victims of this falsification.

How to verify the reliability of the information?

Fact Checkers

There are press media or non-profit projects that dedicate initiatives to help users and journalists or media to discern the truth in the face of so many fake news.

Many times these take on a predominantly political nuance, like PolitiFact. Other times they address general, social, scientific or regional issues. One of the most famous sites, Factcheck.org even has agreements with Facebook to identify and rule out currently spreading fake news..

FactCheck.org includes the option for the user to send a news to be evaluated according to its veracity.

Other tips to evaluate the reliability of information

Check the website

The information available on the blog of a stranger, is not as legitimate as the information published on the website of a press media that has been legitimized for years, such as The New York Times (USA) or The Guardian (UK).

The algorithms that structure the positioning of content on search engines or on social networks don’t necessarily distinguish between true or fake news. Deciding which content is more visible than others is a software’s job, not a person’s job. So you don’t always have to believe all that is shown on the first page of Google results for your search

Check the article’s references

When broadcasting news in a serious way it is essential to mention the sources from which the information is obtained. If it is another article on the Internet, they must provide a link. This in turn gives you another opportunity to assess the legitimacy of the website, press or blog.

In the case of a scientific article, there will be a special section for the references. There’s even articles in Wikipedia, which community users write themselves and then a group of moderators reviews it for inaccuracies…

Note the date it was posted

Reliability of information can change. Even if it comes from a very serious newspaper, information from two years ago may contain inaccurate or inexact details. A common mistake when searching for specific news on Google is to get carried away by the best positioned page without looking at the update date. For this, it would be useful to use google’s News section or the time filter.

Some experts already mention the term “infoxication”. We live in a society where information is everywhere, but is not always reliable. Where’s that magic filter that we need in order to deal with that? Very soon, you will have a tool that will allow you to better assess the emitters of information, helping you to live in this “infoxicated” world


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Gabriela M. Fernández

Journalist with a vocation, doesn't lose hope of learning how to program. Hardcore cinephile, TV-show and technology addict... we could say a full-fledged millennial.

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