On the accuracy of information on the web

On the growth of viral/conspiracy sites

An awesome side effect of the growing omni-presence of the internet is how it has revolutionized the way we get information. We don't have to wait anymore for a show to be on... we can go to any major news outlet's web page and get instant coverage. Further with social media like Facebook and Twitter, we don't even have to wait for news to be written, we can simply tap into feeds of information where the flow of information is instantaneous

While this has made access to information quicker and easier, on the web is a growing number of sites that do not really care about providing accurate information. Whether it is viral web sites which are aimed at making money, conspiracy websites which provide a new "hidden" insight that all news medias have missed, all tap into our "rebellious" side, our quest to seek original information or things we want to be true. Sometimes, it is someone presenting a secret recipy to success, a "life hack" everyone has missed. Sometimes it taps into our curiosity.

As a result, a lot of misinformation is routinely forwarded by people and presented as fact. Because the internet moves so fast, before the information has been fact checked, a huge outrage has been created. As people transmit information, they exagerate more and amplify it... similar to the butterfly effect: a simple irritating fact of sub-importance creates a flame war where people start trolling

What is important to keep in mind is that these sites, for the most part do that to attract traffic and make money. Some are more insidious and are run by people with ulterior motives: Sometimes, it is a company doing astro-turfing to improve their image. Other times, it is someone spreading bad information to hurt a competitor.

This is why it becomes important to validate information as you see it. If it sounds too crazy to be true, chances are it probably is. If it is posted on some obscure blog while the main media is saying otherwise... chances are it is just an opinion or a made up fact: if it is a big scandal, chances are a major news outlet will pick it up first. Therefore, double check it before you forward the information or comment on it

With all that said, there is a huge amount of awesome information on the web. I learn a lot and get access to information quicker

Either Way, happy hunting and just remember, be careful what information you trust... not all of it is created equal .