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The Web Wild West; Do You Know What’s What?

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Don’t believe everything you read. In the news, in textbooks, on the Internet.

The cyber world is a lot like the great Wild West of its time, where the rules are still being made and fine-tuned. The upside is that it’s a remarkably fast-paced and exciting world to be a part of. The downside is that people can prey on innocent victims.

Scam Emails

Everyone’s pretty aware of the scam emails asking for money but the Internet is loaded with false stories that are forwarded as gospel to millions of people. “Missing children” who don’t in fact exist, or any number of other hoaxes abound. And the very sad part is that these false stories make it very difficult to believe anything anymore. There’s one Website, snopes.com, which is great at dispelling urban legends that circulate freely around the Net and it’s a good resource if your gut is telling you something seems fishy. And even if you buy it hook, line and sinker you might want to check it out. The Hot 25 will cut to the chase and point out the 25 most popular Web hoaxes going around at any given moment.

Fiction Given as Fact

This is scary stuff because you’d like to think if it’s in print on the Web it’s valid but that’s really not always the case. Companies have gotten very good at spinning their article to look like well-documented “proof” of something but then when you start to dig deeper you see that the “legitimate” claims are all full of holes. So what’s required is kind of like treating the Web as the little boy who cried “wolf” and with every article see if there are any others that can back it up.

Viral Marketing

This Web-based marketing style is fascinating but it’s also some of the best proof that not every thing you see is real. The guys at Haxan Films are geniuses with this stuff; remember when everyone was convinced that Blair Witch really happened? Who do you think started those rumors? Think about Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds but now with the ability to reach the entire world.

As a writer I can’t help but be impressed by the level and breadth of range viral marketers can go to in order to get you the investor, viewer, patient, or buyer emotionally involved. But again, one should proceed with caution. Because the more shrewd you become, the better they get at working around it. Plus with every survey answered and product badge won you are giving businesses across the globe a whole lot of information to be used in whatever way they see fit.

It’s not all smoke and mirrors, the Web is really wonderful in so many ways but the Wild West it is. So make sure that when you travel those tumbleweed dusty streets that you know who’s coming at you from all sides.

Written by Emily Rankin. Need car insurance? Do your homework: www.carinsurance.org.uk

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