Essay:If it is on the internet, it must be true
The internet is a wonder of the modern age, a supply of almost all information from human history, therefore Everything on here must be fact. Any conspiracy theorist, nutcase and crazy will tell you this it true, right? An example of such high minded thinking is "The Red cross published that the official number is 271,301 in all camps" concerning holocaust deaths. As this is on the internet, it must be true.
Facebook meme: "A human body can bear only up to 45 del (unit) of pain. Yet at time of giving birth, a mother feels up to 57 del (unit) of pain. This is similar to 20 bones getting fractured at a time. Can u imagine it now, the mother’s pain & love? Share and salute your mother" This meme forgets the tiny detail that pain is not measured in dels. In fact, there is no such thing as a del unit. It’s made up, fictional, If you love your mother, tell her instead of wasting your time with this rubbish.
Another Facebook meme: Posts that ask you to type ‘amen’ to help the lil children, or those ‘for every share this post gets, Facebook/Mark Zuckerberg/Bill Gates will donate X-amount of the company or personal fortunes. If these people gave up their fortunes every time this was posted, they would be as poor as the rest of us.
A study by the Pew Internet Project reveals that only 25 percent of those who search the Internet for health topics check the source and date of the information. Ok, so I found this on the internet, I have no idea of it's accuracy, but it does make for a good example. This must be taken with a pinch of salt though, as we all know that 92% of statistics are made up.
What can I do about this?
1) Judgement: You can look at the data you have been supplied, does it seem questionable? You can search further, does the information appear on more trustworthy sites like Britannica? Or does it only appear on sites that use phrases such as "the real truth"?
2) Context: Does the persons spelling/grammar suddenly improve? if the answer is yes, then it is a sure sign of copying and pasting. Copied and pasted information is easily searchable, and this takes you back to step one. A further example of context would be the primary example above. When searched it is easy to find the rest of the story where the Red cross states that they "Never published—or even compiled—statistics of this kind which are being falsely attributed to it" and stated that its mission was "to help war victims, not to count them".
3) Discrediting: Once you have searched and found where the suspect information comes from, go through the website. Are there articles talking about lizard people? Quite often false information will lead you back to websites that seem valid at first glance, but after a little reading it can be easily seen that they are full of invented data and outright idiocy.
4) Contradiction: If you are given numbers, like in the primary example of holocaust numbers. Do some research, you will find holocaust deniers give so many different numbers that it is simply a farce. Give your "friend" examples of other numbers posted, then find the real totals on a more trusted site and point out the discrepancy.
5) External resources: Can the information be found offline? In a book, for example. Libraries are wonderful sources of knowledge, many books are contemporary accounts of historical events with very little editing (compared to internet data).