With resources like Google at our fingertips, information isn't hard to find. What is tougher is finding reliable information.
Google actually doesn't make this easier, for two main reasons.
1. Google ranks on popularity, NOT fact. The first result of a Google search may not even be factually correct. That's because Google algorithms weight results that lots of people click on higher than other results (which is one of the reasons Wikipedia is usually one of the top results in any search - it's very popular). Google has no editors to make sure the information you click on is correct.
2. Google personalizes its results to YOU. Google changes what it shows you based on what you've searched before. It also tailors results based on where you live, what you've bought online, what you share on social media, and what you've sent in your gmail. Google is in the business of selling data - your data - not information.
This personalization is great when you are looking for local weather, or new music suggestions. But this can also lead to narrowing what kind of information shows up when we Google - for instance, when Google notices you click on lots of sites with a liberal or conservative viewpoint, it automatically starts filtering out sites from your search results that are different from your preference. Soon, your whole results list is only showing you what you already agree with (this is called a filter bubble, check out the TED talk about filter bubbles in the sidebar).
The domain (the three letters after the dot in a web address) can tell us a lot about the information we’ll find on a site. Reliable information can be found on all types of sites, but each type is usually trying to do one of four things – sell, persuade, entertain, or inform – and it’s not always obvious which one.
.COM - Commercial Sites
.ORG - Non-profit Organization
.EDU - Educational Institutions
.GOV - US Government or Military
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