Internet Critique Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 3 June 2017

Internet Critique

Internet is an incredible and enormous source of information and, thereby, information searched on Internet must be evaluated for credibility to effectively serve the variety of users. This paper provides a critique of the website “Healthline”, according to the criteria of Thede and Sewell (2010). Healthline is one of the popular website among Internet users, that offers users to search for health topic and medical advise online (http://www.healthline.com). The users can find different treatment options available for a diagnosis as well as information about the drugs. It also allows the users to search for a specialist depending on their residential area. The criteria illustrated by Thede and Sewell (2010) is important in guiding users to differentiate between reliable and unreliable information. By using this criteria users become knowledgeable about evaluating the credibility of a website.

The questions posed in the checklist prompt critical thinking process, and leads us to find the underlying intent of the website. The criteria assist users to check the validity of information by finding if the information is peer-reviewed or verified by qualified editor. Only if the found health information were from a valid scholarly source then it would be trusted. If the user’s intent is to validate the information then this criteria should be applied to any other website regardless of the underlying intent. For instance, commercial website’s sole intent is to sale their products. The Internet users now can search on the web for other websites that offer peer reviews on that product.

Source

Healthline runs by a company Healthline Networks Inc. Originally founded in 1999 but re-launched in 2005 with current name. Detailed description is given about the company’s motto, board of directors and management team in company-info section. A search for a specific disease results in a choice to go to different websites or choose the articles that are listed. If the editorial team does the article then no author name is specified, but it’s reviewed by a qualified MD with or without their credentials specified. But if the article is from an encyclopedia or another publisher, there is only author name is given with their affiliation and article’s published date but no author’s credentials. The last review date of an article is shown at the bottom of the page. The publisher name is shown as well with the copyright information. If author name is displayed, there is no link to contact the author. The link is available if the article is licensed from another publisher. There is no link available to contact the article reviewer.

Funding

Healthline is found to be a commercial site, generating its revenue mainly from the advertisement. It’s a free website for users. The home page is attractive and shows the advertisement at top and bottom of the page. There is also video advertisement with no audio, resulting in less distraction. The advertisements are clearly labeled and don’t spoil the user experience, therefore making the navigation easier.

Validity and Quality

The home page of Healthline shows the accessed date on top of the page and copyright information at the bottom. The last reviewed date is displayed at the bottom of each individual article. New articles are shown at the home page with the name of the editorial team member on top. But if user is looking for something specific then some of the articles searched are almost two years old. User has to thoroughly search for up to date information. There are appeared to be no content and typing errors. Information appears to be non-bias. The language used is comprehensible to a general user and lacks the jargon terms. If user navigates to the company info, the purpose of the website is clearly stated.

Some of the articles are written by the editorial team and reviewed by an MD with published date but no credentials, while other articles are sourced from a third party publisher with some links functioning. The website claims that articles that are done by Healthline editorial teams are reviewed by the board of certified physicians and medical editors. Detailed information about Healthline medical advisory board and their editorial team is also available on the website, including the name of each member with brief summary of their credentials. Healthline acknowledges licensing the medical and health content from third parties for publication, with clear depiction of their name and a valid link. Some of their third party publisher reference partner include A.D.A.M., GALE Cengage Learning, Gold Standard, NBC Universal, StayWell, Harvard Health Publications, Reed Elsevier and more.

Privacy

Healthline privacy policy is well outlined in the company-info section. They clearly state what information they are collecting from users and with whom they share this information with. They gave a detailed overview of what type of anonymous information they are collecting. Anonymous information includes the type of queries done on the website by a user, but doesn’t include any personal information such as, name email-address or phone number. User can choose not to pass-on this anonymous information by disabling the cookies.

Healthline pledges not to share any personal information of registered users to the third parties. In comparison to the recognized privacy policy statement of HON (Health on The Net Foundation, 2011) website, the personal information collected is also not shared with any third party. However, HON also gathers “non-personal” information using their web-server. HON’s privacy statement is short and lacks the details about the non-personal information. On the other hand, Healthline company-info section not only clarifies in detail to the users what are the “Cookies” and “Web Beacons”, but also specifies the privacy policy for the children under thirteen.

Summary

To summarize, the criteria by Thede and Sewell helps user develop a sense to evaluate the sources and credibility of information, based on author’s qualifications and credentials, source of publication, website’s purpose, and website’s privacy policy. All of the criteria are found to be of most importance in helping user to evaluate a website for credibility, especially if user is searching information about their health. The healthline doesn’t meet some of those criteria. The criterion of source is not met because of the lack of consistency in providing author’s name and credentials. Healthline needs to develop a consistency in displaying author’s name, credentials, affiliation, link to contact the author, article’s last reviewed date, and link to contact the article reviewer.

The validity and quality criterion is also partially met. The third party publisher’s validity is verifiable in some case where links are functioning. Healthline needs to specify credentials of the article reviewers as well as the name of their editorial team’s member who wrote the article. Also the health information needs to be up to date. Healthline meets the criteria of funding and privacy policy. It clearly expresses its purpose, and acknowledges generating revenues form advertisement. Its privacy policy gives user a detailed view about the anonymous and personal information and how it is used, gaining user’s trust.

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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 3 June 2017

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