How to Spot “Fake” Information and Protect Yourself Against It

How to Spot “Fake” Information and Protect Yourself Against It

False information (aka ‘fake news’) has sadly become a plague of the internet. No matter what the source, or the subject matter everyone should be on guard about anything they read online. Think through what you read or are told and make an educated decision about what to believe.

Here are some things to watch out for that may provide clues as to what is real or not:

  • Oftentimes, there are signs that something online is a hoax or totally fictional. Headlines that make questionable claims, articles that contain grammatical errors or typos, broken English, and information that simply sounds over the top could be a signal that what you are reading is fake.
  • The website article or page should have a legitimate source. If the author of an article isn’t mentioned, then be suspicious. If you don’t recognize the writer, look up their name to see what else they have written and look around for reports from trusted sources that back up their claims.
  • Ensure the website is legitimate and not a spoofed or counterfeit site that is designed to resemble the real site. Phony websites happen more often than many people realize. If suspicious about a website, then copy a unique sounding line of text from it and paste it into a Google search. If the same exact verbiage shows up in the search results on another website (without a clear reason for duplication), then the website could be a counterfeit. We did this simple test with a client’s website and found an exact copy for a supposed business in Kenya. The client’s site had been spoofed.
  • Don’t click indiscriminately on what looks like sponsored content or ads. They may look like they are part of the standard articles, but could actually be parasites of the legitimate organization’s editorial content. Instead of helpful and real, they are written to sell products and could very well include malicious links or content.
  • Learn to recognize the difference between fake news and satire. (The definition of satire: “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues”). Rather than trust ANY source, first research whether or not the source is known for spoofs or comedy. Social media especially is a hot bed right now for fake news. If you see something on social media that doesn’t seem quite right, it probably isn’t.
  • Most importantly, protect yourself and protect your business brand. Do a search often to see how your business shows up on Google and elsewhere and what links are associated with it. Your reputation is at stake if someone pretends to do business with your company and doesn’t, or leaves negative reviews on line and you’ve never heard of the reviewer. Be prepared to defend yourself if accused. For example, if you or your business gets a negative review from someone you’ve never heard of respond politely to that review and state you don’t know that person. Or if the reviewer is truly a disgruntled customer then apologize in your response and offer to make things right. Even if you aren’t at fault you have been humble in public and that goes a long way with a lot of people.

Technology is great, but it isn’t a replacement for the human capacity to reason. Think through what you read and make up your own mind. Then turn off the noise and read a good book.

SlideShare Infographics Player

Worldwide Google Trends show Infographics have gained popularity over the past year. The reason for their appeal is the efficiency, engagement and entertainment value of visual communication. As part of their marketing strategy, more and more businesses are using infographics to explain their products and services to their target audience.

SlideShare has now introduced an Infographics Player that makes it easier to share graphics on social media. SlideShare now supports documentation, presentations, infographics and videos. It’s pretty easy to use SlideShare and they offer analytics to gauge traffic, which is always a must.

 

 

 

 

 

Business and Mobile Web

Does My Business Need a Mobile Website?

mobile-web-design

For most businesses, an ideal website will be responsive to desktop computers, tablets and smart phones. When planning to design or redesign your website, however, you need to consider if you want to target a mobile audience. If so, what do you want to convey to them through mobile? Some statistics…

  • 56% of people who own cell phone use their phone to go online
  • 50% of smart phone owners use their phones for social media every day
  • 34% of mobile website users would visit a competitor’s mobile site, if they had a bad mobile experience with a business
  • 30% use their phone to decide whether to visit a local business, such as a restaurant or retail store

Top activities on Smartphones:

  • access local information (maps, directions)
  • search for general information
  • participate in social media
  • access news and entertainment
  • find local services (ie., restaurants)

Since over half of cell phone users go online with their mobile devices, many businesses (especially local storefronts and restaurants) would benefit from a mobile site. To avoid frustrating your audience, consider the following details:

Mobile Web Design should:

  • keep branding elements (logo, colors, etc.) consistent with the desktop website version
  • simplify navigation, so it is easy to understand and select options from a smaller screen
  • be thumb friendly–easy to click with little typing needed
  • give an option to view the full website version
  • use white space and minimal text for better viewing
  • clearly show contact information, directions and map

If you think you need to have your website accessible by phone, then consider the design, target audience and goals. Analytic tracking of mobile activity is a must and should be implemented to gauge the value of the mobile site. Otherwise, how will you know if your efforts have delivered a good return on your investment?

Statistical data from Pew Internet