Probably Michael Jackson is the most popular search term this week six days after his death. The amount of information about him being placed on the web is astronomical. And some of it is accurate: TMZ was the first to report on his death on its website.
But the days following his death show the weakness of getting all of one’s information online. Getting information out instantly may be one of the web’s strengths, but the resulting weakness can be that rumor is put up instead of fact. Information is not checked out before published.
The other major weakness of the web is that anyone can post anything at any time. A good example is the story that Jackson is not dead.
So how to tell the good from the bad? It’s not always easy, but use your critical thinking skills:
- Look at the source. Who is publishing the site? Who is the author? Have you heard of them before?
- Does the position or argument make sense?
- Can you find the information backed up in other places?
By using common sense and critical thinking, the web can be your friend when doing research.