As we all know, the Internet is notoriously unpredictable and unreliable. However, millions of people rely with certainty upon information found on websites and blogs. Should we trust everything we read on the Internet? Should we believe all statements written by so-called advocates or self proclaimed experts, without considering the motivation behind the blog? How do we separate the credible and believable from the untrue? Is the information perhaps skewed toward what the bloggers want readers to believe? Well, those are the thousand-dollar questions, and I can’t answer them any better than anyone else questioning the Internet’s validity. My response vacillates between, “Kinda, maybe, sometimes,” to “Hell no!”
There are thousands of websites that contain inaccurate, misleading, biased, highly prejudicial, and even libelous information. Just about anything can be written as “fact,” and we can find negative, fabricated comments about anything or anyone. The Internet is no place to do research unless we are certain who is operating the site and that the information is well-researched and valid.
Blogs and websites that offer free content on a continual basis generally have some sort of motivation for doing so. Whether that incentive is to draw an audience to offered services or products, benefit through the sale of advertising on their site, or to influence readers with a self-serving agenda, there’s usually some underlying reason for what might at first appear to be virtuous and altruistic actions.
One thing I can guarantee is that there are two sides to every story. Blogs are conversations, therefore requiring more responsibility on the reader’s part to think twice before accepting the material at face value. It is extremely important to validate the information found on a website by using multiple sources, although that isn’t always easy. Professional bloggers, often with ulterior motives, will request that their loyal readers link relevant statements from their blog to the readers’ websites. The readers are happy to help out. After all, they believe they are passing on truthful and valuable input, when in reality they may be adding to the distribution of false and deceptive statements. It is not unusual to find distorted and unfounded information, written by a handful of people, on hundreds of sites, all originating from one website.
We can never be too careful when looking for unbiased and straightforward information on the Internet. It is worth repeating: There are two sides to every story.