Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

On June 6, 2014
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I use Facebook every day, to keep up with friends, find inspirational content for others, communicate with loved ones, and do research for clients. Today, I was hit by a startling headline “Charles Manson Granted Parole.” This headline and story was greeted with comments expressing everything from distaste for California politics to outright fear. My first reaction? Google it and get back up confirmation. I found out that it was indeed… a hoax. Internet hoaxes are becoming more and more common, from celebrity deaths to fake news. News sites say its all in good fun, but with the proliferation of social media as how people get their news more and more people are spreading misinformation unknowingly.

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This rings true for business content as well. If someone says something works, great! Do the research. Has this worked for anyone else? Google whatever topic you are searching for and the word “scam.” You are likely to find all the negative consumer reviews you can handle. Now, Google whatever topic you are searching for and these words: success, results, testimonial. This will give you the whole picture about what you are looking at. Take my former boss, Loral Langemeier for example. You can find a lot of results when you type in Loral Langemeier scam. But too many people stop there! Type in success, results, testimonial, products… anything that relates to what you are looking at. If you see the same page pop up on all of the keywords, it’s likely someone has a vendetta against the product, service, or person. Keep digging. Consume some free material if any exists. Decide for yourself.

The key to discovering things on the Internet is to do your research. Don’t take things at face value. I made the horrible mistake, once, as a magazine editor to research my stories using the Internet before I sought a real world experience. The result – lots of closed businesses, a less than editorial-worthy experience, and time wasted when I thought there was time savings.

Daily Exercise: If you see a claim made on social media, dig deeper. Find out more. Perhaps you will be able to relieve some scared Internet users like I did today.

The Internet is a playground rich with information. The thing is, everyone plays here… even the naughty kids who throw tantrums and bully the younger kids. So be vigilant and be comforted – Charlie Manson is still in prison.

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