Lesson 7: Information on the Internet
One reason the internet has so quickly become a part of our daily lives is you can do practically everything on it. You can listen to music, play games, send messages, shop, and of course, use it to do research and homework.
But how accurate is the information on the internet? While the internet connects us to a boundless amount of fun, enticing, and informative content, there are plenty of cyberthreats, online scams, and unreliable sources out there too.
Anyone can put up a website on the internet. That’s why you have to be careful. There is no editorial review board, no information fact-checker, no quality-control expert. You have to be your own judge on the quality and validity of the information you receive.
You must also be careful when using a search engine like Google or Yahoo!. When you search for something online, every word you type into the search engine is considered a keyword. Additionally, the internet doesn’t show you the pages in an order based on the quality of information, but primarily by where and how often the words in your search appear. Some search engines give extra visibility to pages that have lots of links to them from other web pages. Some give extra visibility to pages frequently clicked on by people doing similar searches. Some search engines even put websites that pay fees in the list of results shown to you.
Search engines are useful, but they may also miss a lot of information. Most have access to less than 1 percent of the content that exists on the web. Billions of pages are not even considered. New, specialized search engines are popping up that focus on specific areas such as news, law, or even shopping. By specializing in a specific area, these search engines answer queries with many pages that traditional search engines would miss.
It’s also important to pay close attention to the source of any information you find on the internet. For example, if you were looking up facts on ancient Egypt, a website created by National Geographic Magazine will be more reliable than a person’s opinion on ancient Egypt or their latest visit to the pyramids. Also make sure to look up multiple sources so you know which facts are correct.