Internet credibility is a major problem, and while veterans of the internet understand that not everything on the web is credible, that is something that is not always clear to those who are relatively new to the World Wide Web. Ars Technica reviews a study reviewing the internet behaviors of college freshman, and relates some troubling findings:
The researchers observed 102 college freshmen performing searches on a computer for specific information—usually with Google, but also making use of Yahoo, SparkNotes, MapQuest, Microsoft we assume this means Bing, Wikipedia, AOL, and Facebook. Most students clicked on the first search result no matter what it was, and more than a quarter of respondents said explicitly that they chose it because it was the first result. “In some cases, the respondent regarded the search engine as the relevant entity for which to evaluate trustworthiness, rather than the Web site that contained the information,” wrote researchers Eszter Hargittai, Lindsay Fullerton, Ericka Menchen-Trevino, and Kristin Yates Thomas.
Only 10 percent of the participants mentioned the author or authors credentials when performing their research, and according to screen captures of those students, “none actually followed through by verifying either the identification or the qualifications of the authors.” The researchers said this was the case even when the student stated directly that he or she should check to see who the authors were and what their qualifications were.