Credibility of Information on The Internet

This paper aims to chalk out ten effective steps that may be followed in order to ensure the authenticity and validity of information on the Internet. The Internet is a great source for gathering information but one must keep in mind its incredible vastness. There are several unfiltered information sources that needed to be sifted through in order to arrive at pertinent conclusions. The main aim is to objectively chalk out the ten steps that need to be adhered to in order to ensure that information sourced from the Internet is credible.

First, we will look at the kind of information on the Internet, then look at the rationale of evaluating the information available and the need for evaluation and lastly provide the ten ways to determine the credibility of information on the Internet. Credibility of Information on The Internet 3 Ten Effective Ways to Determine the Credibility of Information on the Internet Today, the World Wide Web or the Internet works as a virtual library providing immeasurable information to anyone willing to access the same.

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Practically anyone can publish anything on the Internet and websites are not regulated or monitored.

Thus there is absolutely no way that one can ensure the validity of Internet information. According to a white paper by Greer, Holinga, Kindel and Netznik, (2000), the search engine google. com, has claimed that it searches 1,326,920,000 web pages. A Netcraft report published in February 2008, suggests that the total count of websites is around 156 million. Given that publishing an article on the Internet is free (and if not, it is possible for a nominal fee), unmonitored, unregulated and easy, there is no clear way of assessing the credibility of information gathered.

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It then falls upon the reader to establish the integrity, authorship, validity and relevance of what one uses from the net. While gathering information is a key factor in all fields such as science, journalism, business, education and research, it is absolutely essential that the information is gathered is accurate and valid. It is imperative that any information used is authenticated, valid and reliable. According to the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (2000), “Information literacy forms the basis of lifelong learning.

It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables Credibility of Information on The Internet 4 learners to master content and extend their investigations, become self-directed, and to assume greater control over their own learning. ” The reality is that since anyone can put practically anything online, information put up on the Internet is not subject to guidelines such as editorial or peer review, expert evaluation etc. Often the Internet is matched up to a notice pasted on a bulletin board – it may be significant but may not be authentic and authoritative!

There are many reasons to evaluate Internet information. For one, there are no guidelines for posting information on the World Wide Web. For instance, some websites may be opinion based, others factual, some for self-promotion and propaganda and others with a commercial perspective. Second, is the fact that websites are not subject to any kind of monitoring and reviewing. Although some sites employ filters, chat rooms and newsgroups, nobody has the power to remove inaccurate/biased/inappropriate information from the Internet.

The Internet can also be the cause of dispersing disinformation and erroneous news. It is my opinion that the following ten steps can be followed in order to verify the credibility of information sourced from the Internet. 1. Check the URL: According to Ann Scholz (2008), in her guideline for Purdue Libraries, one needs to first check a webpage for critical elements such as the header, the body and the footer. It is essential to check whether the source is moderated or unmoderated, or an anonymous ftp site. The URL address needs to begin with http://. Credibility of Information on The Internet 5

URL addresses that have tides (~) indicate that an individual has published the site and hence the authenticity of information needs to be verified. 2. Authorship: In order for information to be considered reliable, it would need to be verified by an editorial team or reviewed by peers. One needs to validate the author, his/her credentials, the extent of authority he/she has on this topic, his/her affiliation and evaluate perspectives, opinions and biases, if any. 3. Verify the publishing entity: This refers to the agency or individual operating the server computer.

The fact is that commercial search engines are inclined to being rather biased as a number of these searches are manipulated. Many times corporates strike a deal with the search engine to have their company site at the top of the web possibilities for a particular keyword. You need to check the order in which the search engine provides information requested. 4. Assess the objectivity: Information is rarely neutral and almost always reflects a point of view. One must assess the way in which information on a webpage is interpreted by the author and avoid commercial and sociopolitical opinions.

5. Currency: This refers to the timelessness and enduring nature of content on a webpage. One should not use dated and old information on a time-sensitive issue. Ideally the document must have a publication date, last updated date and a date of copyright. 6. Domain types: One needs to check the end of the URL. For instance, . edu is an accredited post-secondary educational institution, . gov means a U. S. government site, Credibility of Information on The Internet 6 .com is a commercial, for-profit entity, .

org, is a noncommercial, not-for-profit entity, . int is an international organization, . net symbolizes a computer network, particularly an Internet-related network and • . jp, . ru, . ca, . au, etc. are country identifiers 7. Coverage: Besides verifying the author’s knowledge of the subject, one should check how thoroughly he/she has covered related issues. If there are internal links that give quick reference to the main sections of the content, it demonstrates that the author is willing to address potential questions of the readers.

It is imperative that other sites used within the text are acknowledged and that the bibliography is complete and thorough. 8. Analyze what the other web links say: Depending on the volume of traffic to the page, you will be able to check the sites that link to the page, verify the contact for the domain name, refer to ‘related links’ visited by people who have landed on this page etc. 9. Ensure that it all adds up: Often information on the Internet could be ironic, satirical, a parody, a spoof or false. You need to be sure that you are being given authentic information and that it is appropriate and of value.

10. Distinguish propaganda, disinformation and misinformation: Swaine (2008) quotes Sir Tim Berners-Lee (the man credited with creating the web), as saying that the Internet is turning into a platform for rumors, falsehoods, and unnecessary propaganda. While there is no clear timeframe on censorship of information available on the Internet, it is essential that one is skeptical regarding the sources used on the Internet. While information is available in abundance, it is essential that all users of the World Wide Web inculcate a sense of critical thinking and enable readers to develop

Credibility of Information on The Internet 7 healthy skepticism during research work. This will help analyze and verify the credibility, authenticity, point of view or perspective and purpose of information. Credibility of Information on The Internet 8 References Anonymous (2008, February 9). The Total Number of Websites on Earth. Message posted to http://www. labnol. org/internet/blogging/the-total-number-of-websites-on-earth/2257/ Kirk, E. E. (1996). Evaluating Information Found on the Internet. Retrieved May 31, 2009 from http://www.

library. jhu. edu/researchhelp/general/evaluating/ Scot, B. D. (1996). Evaluating Information on the Internet. Computers in Libraries, 16(5), 44-46. Greer, T. , Holinga, D. , Kindel, C. , & Netznik M. (2005). An Educator’s Guide to Credibility and Web Evaluation. Retrieved May 31, 2009 from http://www2. csusm. edu/ilast/webevalart. htm. Smith, A. G. (1997). Testing the Surf: Criteria for Evaluating Internet Information Resources. Retrieved May 31, 2009 from http://epress. lib. uh. edu/pr/v8/n3/smit8n3. html.

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Credibility of Information on The Internet. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

Credibility of Information on The Internet

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