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Credible And Reliable Sources In The Internet

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Question:

Discuss about the Credible and Reliable Sources in the Internet.

 

Answer:

Because of the high growth rate of the use of internet, it is believed that finding credible information on the internet is almost impossible. Despite this impact, the internet has proven to have positive impacts on the day to day activities for people. For instance, the online technology has enabled communication and information to be streamlined. The digital platform can be compared to a vast library full of all kinds of books. However, it should be noted that the growth of information resources on the web has made the evaluation and critical analysis regarding the credibility of the sources a nightmare, especially when untrustworthy information is being uploaded to the internet (Crocker, Hampson and Aall, 2007). The fact that information search on web-based platforms is among the popular activities of all internet users, makes the research on the credibility of the information sources a worthwhile endeavor. Moreover, social media platforms such as Facebook is not only good but also questionable regarding the credibility of information where fake news is the order of the day. The availability of a lot of information on the web makes it a herculean task to discern whom and what to trust. As per Gardner and Jewler, (2000), when a closer look is taken between the tradition information sources which are majorly the print media, there are no prerequisites when it comes to web-based information. Any tom dick and harry has the potential to post any information on Facebook despite it being fake news. Despite the high significance of information credibility on the internet, authorities and researchers have exhibited a laxity regarding taming information thus is difficult to know where it came from. This paper aims to establish and investigate the issue of information credibility on web-based platforms, particularly regarding fake news and Facebook.

According to Murgia and Kuchler, (2017), following the 2016 elections of the United States, there are many concerns regarding the impacts of untrue stories dubbed as faked news which circulated on Facebook throughout the campaign and election period. It has been reported that many people who came across fake news on Facebook believed it was true. Mainstream media did not have the chance to influence the American citizens with credible news since the internet is easily accessible and also portable. Fake news on Facebook tended to favor the current United States president, Donald Trump. Misleading information has been a course of concern since the advent of the internet. Information may be misleading as result of error. However, most of the misleading information on web-based platforms such as Facebook are through one’s accord where an individual decide to post something knowing exactly what one is posting and to what audience.

The different types of misleading and information which are not credible on the web are not limited to incomplete information, pranks, biased information and out of date information (Nye, 2005). Fake news on Facebook comes in all types of misleading information. Out of date information has been one of the most misused forms of fake news on Facebook where one uses out of date information to influence a current event. Misinformation can be defined as the addition of inadequate information to knowledge which at the end results to an idea which is different but set to influence a certain outcome.

 

Credibility Evaluation Regarding Online Information

There are many assumptions regarding people's will to evaluate online information as credible sources. It is believed that people have the tendency to be motivated to evaluate the trustworthiness of any information (Dhia, 2006). In addition to the assumption that people evaluate information sources, is that most people usually engage in an endeavor to determine the credibility of information on the internet. Despite the fact that there are many types of information that exist on the internet, such as texts, videos, photos and audios among others, textual content is the one that influence people a lot even if it is not credible.  According to Metzger and Flanagin, (2013), there are approaches that are viable for one to be able to determine fake news, one of the approaches is accuracy. This means that a user can check whether the website is error free by cross-checking the information on other websites. The authority is a second approach where the author of the information can determine the credibility of information. For instance, a Facebook post that sounds controversial can be separated from credible news and fake news by checking whether there is an author or there is no author linked to such information. 

Another approach of identifying credibility of web-based information is objectivity. Any individual can be able to check the intended purpose of a massage.  People should be able to differentiate between opinions and facts. Opinions should not influence a reader’s action. Though some authors point out facts, one cannot be sure until one can verify the facts from another outlet especially the mainstream media. The last approach to identify the credibility of internet based information is through checking currency.  One should be aware of the currency of the information that depicts up to date characteristics. Ultimately, the above-recommended approaches call for a lot of participation on the side of the user of information. From a simple visual observation of a website or a Facebook profile to a more intensive effort in confirmation of the information through cross checking.

The checklist approach to determining the authenticity of fake information has its limitation. For instance, users are not equipped with the knowledge in identifying credible news but are rather equipped with criteria that they can use to cross check the credibility of the information. These criteria are hard to apply since they are time-consuming and hence a user has not a time for fact checking the credibility of information. Consequently, the online platforms are responsible for keeping the user aware of the fake news. Case in point, Facebook is responsible for in identifying fake news among the news feed and keep a user up to speed. Moreover, the skills that user should pose in identifying credible information is critical thinking and information literacy. These two terms are intertwined and can be used at ago. A clean mind can be able to note that information that is being presented is not true. Also, use with adequate knowledge will easily identify that certain information is not true.

Understanding Fake News

The concept of fake news came into existence during the United States election of 2016 where many Facebook posts were seen depicting information which does not exist (Lake and Flynn, 2017).  It is imperative to note that fake news look completely legitimate but it is not. During the election period, thousands of Facebook pages and accounts had erupted with the aim of providing information to influence the people regarding their voting pattern. When one takes an analytical look at one’s Facebook account, it is clear that there are myriad of news whose credibility are questionable. Such news appears to influence one’s decision about something. It is rare to find fake news on Facebook being entertaining. With this realization, Facebook Corporation have changed their trending segment where news will be tagged with credible authors so as to inform people which news is credible or not. 

There are some characteristics which are eminent in websites linked to fake news on Facebook. For instance, a credible information source will give factual information by displaying authorship. When an author is known, one will be able to know that the information is true. Also, a credible information is one without errors where grammar and punctuations are properly utilized. Credible information is current and is objective. On the other hand, information aimed at misinforming is subjective. Where information has been given own interpretation aimed at convincing a reader. They are usually up to date. Sources which aimed at misinforming are usually wanted to deceive readers by giving false information (Wathen, and Burkell, 2002). This kind of information lack authors since no one would like to be identified with false information. Disinformation lacks references to prove the credibility of the sources of information relayed in the content. Lastly, disinformation does not have the date when it was published. With such characteristics on various information on Facebook, it is possible for one to note the type of information that is credible and one that is fake news.  As pointed out by Price, (2017) Facebook has provided on ways of checking for fake news where one of the ways is being on the lookout of Uniform Resource Locator (URL) where fake news try to mimic Uniform Resource Locator (URL) for credible sources by making small changes. Facebook has reiterated that fake news usually has catchy headlines (Castillo, Mendoza, and Poblete, 2013).

In conclusion, the World Wide Web is an important feature in the current century which acts a gold mine regarding searching for information. However, with the increase in the use of web-based sources in the search for information about education, research, and information, there is dire need to ensure that the credibility and reliability of these sources are identified. At present, Facebook is on the radar as the United Kingdom general elections nears where fake news is likely to be the order of the day.  Users should equip themselves with information literacy and critical thinking to combat fake news. Consequently, there is need for traditional skills in evaluation of credibility of information in digital publications.

 

References

Castillo, C., Mendoza, M., & Poblete, B. (2013). Predicting information credibility in time-sensitive social media. Internet Research, 23(5), 560-588.      doi:https://dx.doi.org/10.1108/IntR-05-2012-0095

Crocker, C., Hampson, F., & Aall, P. (2007). Leashing the Dogs of War (1st ed., p. 395).   Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.

Dhia, A. (2006). The Information Age and Diplomacy: An Emerging Strategic Vision in World      Affairs (1st ed., p. 20). Universal-Publishers.

Gardner, J., & Jewler, A. (2000). Your college experience (1st ed., p. 194). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub. Co.

Lake, E., & Flynn, E. (2017). "Fake news" is everywhere, from Donald Trump to your Facebook feed - but what actually is it?. The Sun. Retrieved 3 May 2017, from https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2188911/fake-news-inquiry-facebook-google- advertising-boycott/

Metzger, M., & Flanagin, A. (2013). Credibility and trust of information in online environments: The use of cognitive heuristics. Journal Of Pragmatics, 59, 210-220.     https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2013.07.012

Murgia, M., & Kuchler, H. (2017). Facebook struggles to purge fake news. Ft.com. Retrieved 3   May 2017, from https://www.ft.com/content/0feeafe6-2c01-11e7-9ec8-168383da43b7

Nye, J. (2005). Power in the global information age (1st ed., p. 89). London: Routledge.

Price, R. (2017). Facebook will now teach you how to spot fake news. Business Insider. Retrieved 3 May 2017, from https://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-how-to-spot-  fake-news- 2017-4?IR=T

Wathen, C. N., & Burkell, J. (2002). Believe it or not: Factors influencing credibility on the  web. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 53(2),    134-144. Retrieved from  https://search.proquest.com/docview/231407928?accountid=45049

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