Internet Privacy Misunderstandings, Part 9

Friday, January 11, 2013

This is the ninth post in a series debunking some common misunderstandings about online privacy. The images used in these posts have been adapted from a tutorial given by Gerald Friedland at ACM Multimedia in Nara, Japan in October. Read previous posts: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.

privacy misunderstanding 9

There is a lot of information available online - but the reality is that anyone who can type can post something online. It may or may not be true, and it can be very difficult to determine whether or not something you see online is from a reliable source. This applies to photos and videos as well as text - many people think that if they see a picture of something, then it must be real - but photo (and video) editing software can make things look real that in fact are not. Think about a movie with really good special effects, for example. Because of this, it's important to remember that when you post something, true or not, there will be people who believe it and others who don't. In addition, if you post something that is meant to be sarcasm or a joke of some sort, be aware that many people might not see it that way. Be very cautious with the words you choose to use in your posts online, because you never know who might be reading them and taking them at face value.

Not even Wikipedia is immune to false information. This article describes several hoaxes that have appeared on Wikipedia over the years - meaning that even when you are reading an article on a generally trusted site, it is only accurate if the person who posted it is able to provide factual evidence for the content they post.