It's On The Web -- But Is It Real?
You probably know that anyone can put anything on the web. You might even be aware that much information on the web is inaccurate. Some misinformation is unintentional -- a result of sloppy or incomplete research. But other pages contain inaccurate information on purpose.
Why might someone deliberately put misinformation on the web? Take a look at the seven categories and examples listed below. (Be alert! Misinformation doesn't necessarily mean bad information; seeing the anti-page of an organization, for example, may give you an insight into the opposition's arguments.)
Counterfeit Web Sites -- These sites look legitimate, but look closer! The purpose is to spread misinformation.
Parodies and Spoofs: -- The attempt at satire is usually obvious.
Fictitious Sites -- The information on these sites is pure fiction, but the intent is neither primarily humorous nor parody.
Malicious Web Sites -- Sponored by hate groups, these sites often use the guise of academic discourse to pass on misinformation.
Product Sites -- Even legitimate dot-coms slant information toward or against the selling of a product. (And not all dot-coms are dot-com!)
Subject-Specific Misinformation -- Misinformation specifically aimed at people seeking health and business information can be especially harmful.
These categories, and much of the information on this page, is from Better Read That Again: Web Hoaxes and Misinformation. by by Paul S. Piper, Librarian, Western Washington University (Searcher, Vol. 8, No. 8; September 2000.)