I was recently visiting with my grandmother who, thanks to a generous Christmas present, now has an iPad and has become fascinated with the internet. My grandfather, too, recently joined the Information Age, and both of them are getting very much used to navigating this new world. One of the dangers of the internet, which they are slowly beginning to learn, is that all information is out there for the taking, and not all of it is necessarily true. I realized this when, for the fifth time in under three months, my grandmother expressed concern about another everyday household product that Facebook (in all likelihood a secondary site, but she doesn't know the difference) told her would cause cancer. This is, I think, one of the most popular, tired, and mildly extreme examples of the kind of information that can spread easily through social media and the internet in general which, when gone unchecked, can cause unnecessary panic.
Now I know most people who would read this article aren't in her demographic, and for the most part any of my readers are going to think, "well, I know that. I'm not stupid." That's fair, I know you're not, but we can all get caught up in a story, we all let our guards down sometimes, and we take in information without thinking to question it. Not everyone is built to form an argument every time a fact is stated; that would exhaust just about anyone. The trickiest bit is when you're told something on the internet, and it's true; the sources check out, you can find it reiterated, you trust the author, everything seems clear. Even then, though, you need to be careful because, you see, the information can be true but still lacking in the proper context.
So, all I'm saying is, be careful out there. When you read something, check it, check it again, and really think about what that information can mean for you. You don't have to assume everything on the internet is false, but don't just stop at FactChecker and be content: really take control over your thoughts on every subject. It'll make you feel safer, and more secure in the Information Age.