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When to Trust What You’re Reading Online

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This article is to help you know when you can trust what you’re reading on the internet.

Published: June 25, 2021

Category: Educational, Featured

Do you remember when the internet was first created? As the internet slowly progressed, parents and guardians were quick to tell children not to believe everything they’ve read online. But we’ve now entered an era where almost everything takes place online, and it’s almost impossible to get through your daily life without needing it to some capacity — whether you want to have a video chat with your grandchildren, need to search for a recipe or even if you work from home. As a result, you don’t quite know when to trust what you’re reading and when you should listen to your instincts that you still can’t believe everything you read online.

This article is to help you know when you can trust what you’re reading on the internet, and how you can spot something fake.

What not to trust on the internet

Let’s get started with the resources that, generally, can’t be trusted. These are the websites in which anyone can put any sort of information into. This could lead to false information being posted as fact, which can be a dangerous thing. These resources are:

  • Social media. We could not emphasize this enough. Social media is an open forum for people to post whatever they want at whenever they want, however they want. And, unfortunately, people abuse this power. People use social media to post false or misleading claims that can’t be backed up. They may cite sources but doing so could reveal that the person misinterpreted the claim before posting about it or found information from another unreliable source. You should never blindly believe what you are reading on social media is true.
  • Wikipedia. Wikipedia labels itself as the “free encyclopedia” that posts general information over any topic — from celebrity biographies to a scientific phenomenon. Anyone with an account linked to Wikipedia can post material on any specific page. What anyone changes could be mistaken as fact to many people because he or she can change the information on the website, which can quickly become a problem. This could have an adverse effect because it could lead people to take actions based upon inaccurate details. Let’s say information about a popular schoolboard candidate was tampered with, resulting anyone who reads that false rumor to vote against him or her. The fake information spread about the candidate would result in a loss that was partially made unwarranted because of lies people perceived to be true.
  • Online reviews … kind of. Although online reviews can be very helpful, you need to be careful about them. Most of the time, people only write reviews if they are passionate enough to take the time out of their day. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. If there is an overwhelming number of reviews telling you that you should not purchase a product, then it’s likely that it is a product you will want to avoid. However, if there are mixed reviews, you will want to find a happy medium between the differing opinions you are seeing. A large reason why you should also be skeptical of online reviews is that, sometimes, companies will post false-positive reviews about their product or service. According to a report from BestSEOCompanies, almost 40% of these reviews are fake.

What to trust on the internet

Now, just because there are some places crawling with false information, it doesn’t mean that everything is fake. It is important to fact-check what you’re reading, and these are some of the resources that are viable and trustworthy:

  • Websites that are managed by the government. Pages ran by the United States government will typically end in .gov. Government-run websites are one of the most credible websites that circulate the internet because they are regularly fact-checked to ensure the information is still true. Many people rely on what is provided by government websites, so any details that are out-of-date are corrected. There are almost 2,000 websites overseen by the federal government, including the Library of Congress, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Census Bureau, and more.
  • Websites that are managed by academic institutions. Much like government-run sites, academic websites are also very credible. Most of the websites linked to academic institutions will end in .edu. Many times, these schools will post research papers about findings they have discovered, through intensive analysis and examination.
  • Google Scholar (and other scholarly databases). At Google Scholar, you will find a wide array for scholarly literature. According to the website, you will be able to find resources on articles, theses, books, abstracts, and court opinions. The website is an easy and efficient way to find credible resources for anything you would like to know more about. In fact, Google Scholar is a recommended tool to many college students who are writing papers or studying an independent subject.


What to do if you’re unsure

The highest recommendation that we can give is to fact-check. It’s good to get at least two to three sources that back up what you’re reading. Of course, you should not fact-check on social media. As we stated, social media is not a place to trust a lot of what you’re reading online.

When you are fact-checking, first make sure that the website cites any sources, whether it be cited links or a list of references. Check these sources to see whether they are based on legitimate data and research findings, or if they are false. You can typically tell if a resource is false based on the way it’s written. If the resource is written in broken English or is from a less-than-professional-looking website, it’s likely to be fake. However, if the reference is research posted by an academic institution, or if it is a registered with the government, it’s likely to be reliable.

Things to remember

It’s possible that you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information that is circling around online. If there is one thing to know about the internet, it’s that it shows us just how much there is to learn out there. Although a lot of the information is misleading or altogether false, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t truthful things online.

If you’re researching into a topic, you will get a lot of mixed information that will display the varying opinions or findings over it. For example, insurance. If you are researching into insurance policies that will help you in retirement, you will find a lot of different facts and opinions about different policies. If you click on a link about health insurance from an insurance agency, you will find a lot of facts that will persuade you to want to work with it. But, if you click on a link from an independent broker, you may find points that you never considered and will deter you from selecting that policy or working with that company.

This can leave you feeling confused and, at times, stressed about the next steps you should take. Both aren’t necessarily wrong, but which option is better? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. The Best Senior Services is an educational hub for seniors to learn about what is their best option for insurance and other financial services in their retirement. We also connect seniors to a local registered agent who will work closely with them to give them the best plans for their future.

Call us today at 855.979.8277 or visit our website to get started with us today!

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