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Be Wary

How to trust what you read on the Web

This story appears in the April 2000 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

How do you know if what you're reading right now is true? Well, you don't, really. But before you see what I write, these words pass before several pairs of eyes to ensure each article's accuracy. That's the trust that comes with glossy print magazines. With the Web, however, I can put my manifesto, declaration or "news" before an audience of millions without any checks or balances, or anyone to curtail my version of the truth. Audri Lanford, editor of Internet ScamBusters (, notes: "Anyone can publish anything. Whether or not it happens to be true, they can reach a wide audience." What's the solution? If you're looking for information or news online, you've got to be a critical browser and identify the warning signs of a slanted data source. Lanford offers these tips:

  • Be skeptical. If it sounds too weird to be true, it probably is.
  • Don't ever believe spam-Lanford says 95 percent of it is a scam.

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