Unit 2, Identifying Hoax Websites
Objectives for Unit 2
In this unit, we will examine how to identify a hoax website. Upon completion you will be able to determine if a website is giving trustworthy and non-bias information.
Take a look
Let's take a look at the following Website
- Read the homepage and think about what it is telling you.
- Navigate some of the links on the left side bar
Write down the answers to the following:
- What inconsistancies do you see?
- What questions come to mind?
- What concerns would you have about presenting information from this site?
Let's Narrow it Down
First of all, this site has some very obvious clues that it is provding false iformation.
Look at the URL
Look at the url (http://www.dreamweaverstudios.com/moonbeam/legal.htm) Not only is it a .com, but would you purchase anything related to the moon from Dream Weaver Studios? Always think about who is producing the webpage and how they relate to the material being published. One of the most important questions you will ask yourself is is the author a trusted authority?
Look at the Date
Scroll to the bottom of the screen, the copyright date is 1998. Don't you think if property were being sold on the moon you would have heard about it by now? If you have a gut feeling that something isn't right trust your instincts! If you aren't sure then look in to it further, don't just assume its true. When looking at a webpage you want to make sure it is current information and updated regularly.
You always want to ask yourself, why is this webpage here? Why would someone have taken the time to design this?
If you see a place to enter credit card information, that is your reason!
A Little Deeper
Look at this Website Think about what we learned from the last site
- Who is writing this?
- When was it written?
- What is the purpose?
Take the time to browse this site, check out it's links and answer the above questions. Make sure you click on DHMO and Cancer and take a look at that page.
What do you think?
Consider the following regarding the DHMO site
- It's a .org
- It's links are to well known organizations.
- The date on the bottom of the homepage is 2009, so we know it's current
- There is a name listed, as well as why the site has been created.
Just because a site is a .org, has well maintained links, is updated, and has a purpose doesn't mean it's reliable.
Let's break this down
- What is a .org? An organization. Do you have to be reliable to be an organization? Do you have to be non-bias? Absolutely not.
Can you think of any organizations that are not trustworthy? Can you give an example of one that is?
- Well maintained links are a good sign, but just because the links are reliable sites doesn't mean the original website is.
- An updated site is nice, but doesn't mean it's being updated with the proper information
- A purpose doesn't have to be for the greater good
What are some reasons someone may have for putting up a website?
How Do We Know
I asked you to look at the link for DHMO and Cancer It very clearly states that Dihydrogen Monoxide causes cancer. At the bottom of the page it lists links toward different national organizations for cancer research. We know the American Cancer Society is a legitimate organization. Click on their link and put Dihydrogen Monoxide in the search box. What happens?
Now using your common sense, if Dihydrogen Monoxide was such a controversial issue and believed by some to cause cancers, wouldn't it come up somewhere on the American Cancer Society website? If you continue to research Dihydrogen Monoxide you will find that it is in fact water. Snopes.Com can be used to confirm certain rumors. According to Snopes, the Dihydrogen Monoxide rumors were started by a junior high school student who created the project for a science fair.
Although it is important to be aware of the Who, What, When, Where, and Why, you do not stop there. When using the internet for research, make sure you have several sites confirming the information you gather and do not hesitate to take your critique one step further to be sure.
Now that we know the most important aspect of evaluating websites is if it is authoritative, write down your feelings. Are you surprised at how tricky the websites can be? Do you think you will rethink a website before using it for research? Go to Google and see if you can find other examples of hoax websites. Try and see if one of your friends can pick up on a hoax website.
When you are finished proceed to Unit 3.