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Intentional_Misinformation Powered By Docstoc
					Intentional Misinformation on the

                Bronx Community College
                           Spring 2009
                          Anne P. Mintz
          I love Google, but…
• Google is a great place to start. Never a place
  to end
                   Google's Schmidt:
          Brands to clean up Internet 'cesspool'
                       by Dan Farber

From CNet News 10/13/08

  “According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, the Internet
  is a “cesspool"where false information thrives.”
                     Outrageous examples
• Hate groups
   – Everything on this web site is accurate and in context
   – Note how the pages from the links imply a connection to MLK Jr.

• Health related – Hydrogen Peroxide Therapy
   – Do a Google search on Hydrogen Peroxide therapy and see how many sites encourage this
   – Look for this therapy on more established medical sites such as
   – WebMD and Medline from the National Library of Medicine

• E-commerce fraud
  The Nigerian letter and its cousins are not new. The USPS has dealt with these since before the

• Pump and dump schemes
  When businesses hype themselves on the internet to ensnare investors into pumping up the
  stock price so the originators can sell at a high price and get out with profits.
      New ways to misinform (FT)
• Fake blogs can help companies get a personal
  voice behind a marketing campaign – but they
  risk a PR disaster if they are uncovered. When
  Sony tried to boost sales of its PSP portable
  gaming unit, it started a blog supposedly by
  two boys who wanted PSPs for Christmas.
  When it was revealed as a fake, Sony
  apologised and took it down
      New Ways to Misinform (FT)
         Comment spamming
• Flooding the comment fields of blogs with
  enthusiastic notes about a company, even
  with full disclosure, is not welcomed by web
  users. When a Motorola employee
  commented on dozens of posts on a
  technology blog – each comment a plug for
  the new Motorola Krave – bloggers responded
  with snide criticisms of his spamming, which
  duly ceased
      New Ways to Misinform (FT)
• A technique that gets its name from the
  practice of generating fake grassroots
  enthusiasm. One Florida company,
  PayPerPost, serves as a matchmaker between
  companies willing to pay for good press and
  bloggers willing to plug products that they
  have never used. After receiving criticism,
  PayPerPost now requires bloggers to disclose
  that their posts are sponsored
         I love Wikipedia but…
• Likely 99.9% accurate. Just not sure which .1%
  is not.
• Most biographical entries are now monitored
  by Wikipedia management. Entry editors
  must use real names when changing entries.
• Always look at references at the end of the
  entry. They may lead you to the information
  you really want, from a source you trust.
• Click on embedded live links to be sure they
  are taking you to credible sites.
  Wikipedia as a source
• What’s right about it? A lot.

• What’s wrong with it? A very small percentage of the
  content is erroneous. We just don’t know which small

• Be sure to use the references at the end of an entry.

• Be sure to check that the links take you where you
  expect them to, and that the sites are credible.
      What Wikipedia does well…
• Review the entry on Bronx Community College.
  It is identified as a “stub” with basic information,
  giving sources. Where one statement is not
  confirmed, it states that it is looking for a source
  to confirm.
• Review the entry on Bronx Borough President.
  Notice that it links to other NYC entries, and
  review the sources they cite.
• Review the entry on Adolfo Carrion, Jr. to see
  how the biographical entries cite sources from
  media as well as other sources.
 What Wikipedia isn’t so good at…
• Read the entry on Cold Fusion. Are you in a
  position to judge the veracity of this entry?
  Are any of the sources cited familiar to you?
  While this may be 100% accurate, how would
  you know?
              Urban Legends
• Will give a review of the issue and evidence from
  credible sources
• Has a date on the entry, so one can research the
  issue from that point onward without duplicating
• Has a link to the Hot 25 Legends, some of which
  are true and others of which are debunked
Urban Legends –
     Web Site Evaluation Criteria
• What you see might be what you get... just not
  what you wanted
       Web evaluation criteria
1. Is it well written? Are there grammatical or
   spelling errors?
2. Is there a date on the site to document

 You can look at older versions of a site on Web
    Archive, The Wayback Machine.
       Web site evaluation criteria
• Audience
  – are scope, purpose and intended audience adequately
• Authority/Credibility
  –   who’s responsible for the site?
  –   what are their credentials/qualifications?
  –   can someone be easily contacted for more information?
  –   is material copyrighted?
  –   are links clearly identified as to authorship?
         Web site evaluation criteria

• Objectivity/Focus
  –   is the information biased?
  –   can you trust what you read/see?
  –   relationship of advertising to the content?
  –   do you know where you are at all times, e.g. sites linked
      to open as additional frames?
• Currency/Timeliness
  – when was the information last updated?
  – are cited and linked sources up to date?
  – is there a clear regular schedule of updates?
     Web site evaluation criteria
• Accuracy
  – is the information timely?
  – how clean is the data? is it error free (typos,
    grammar, spelling)?
  – is it sufficiently detailed and comprehensive?
  – are data and links complete and accurate?
  – are links relevant and timely?
  – how does it compare to print sources?
     Web Site Evaluation Criteria
• Cost
  – is there a clearly stated policy?
  – is it apparent if it is fee-based, free or requires
    registration - or any combination?
       Web Site Evaluation Criteria:
              Design Factor
• Navigation
  – is there a logical structure/organization?
  – does the structure facilitate effective access and retrieval?
  – is it easy to move around/move forward & backward?
  – are directions clear?
  – is there an effective sitemap?
      • good examples:
  – is there a versatile search engine with tips & tricks for effective
  Web Site Evaluation Criteria: Design
• Ease of Access
  – logical URL?
  – registration/logon requirements?
  – minimal downtime?
  – stability?
  – load time?
  – text only option?
  – indexed on major search engine?
        Web Site Evaluation Criteria:
                Cool Factor
• Content
   – you already have some knowledge of the topic
       • do you see content and links that you would expect
          to see?
       • are timely issues represented?
• Design
   – it is easy to navigate?
       Web evaluation criteria
1. Is it well written? Are there grammatical or
   spelling errors?
2. Is there a date on the site to document
3. You can look at older versions of a site on
   Web Archive, The Wayback Machine.
       Web evaluation criteria

4. Is the information accurate, complete?
5. Can you detect the point of view of the site’s
6. Can you confirm this information from
   another source?
Whois lookup for McWhortle