Majority of Americans Distrust Information Found Online

Majority of Americans Distrust Information Found Online
Almost every American who looks for information online is skeptical of what they find, according to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive.

The survey, commissioned by business knowledge provider Mancx, found that 98 percent of the 1,900 adult Americans participating in the survey had reasons to doubt information they found on the Internet.

Among the reasons respondents gave for distrusting the information were advertising (59 percent), staleness (56 percent), self-promotion (53 percent) and ignorance of the forums where the information originated (45 percent).

Ninety-three percent of the respondents said they could be more satisfied with the information they find online. Yet less than 60 percent said their quest for answers on the Internet would be improved if information they found could be trusted, and even fewer (54 percent) felt their searching would be improved if their search results always came from trusted sources.

“These findings demonstrate that people want online information to be more credible than it is today, and that current web services just don’t cut it," Mattias Guilotte, the cofounder of Mancx, said in a statement.

Majority of Americans Distrust Information Found Online
The survey also showed that Americans are very aware of the consequences of acting on inaccurate information, with 94 percent of the sample agreeing that bad things could happen to them for doing so.

Among the dire consequences that respondents cited were getting infected by a computer virus (63 percent), losing money (51 percent), exposing themselves to fraud (51 percent), damaging credibility (36 percent), getting fired (14 percent) and losing their spouse (9 percent).

For some of the respondents, though, losing a spouse would be worth it if they could find what they were looking for on the Web. Asked what they would be willing to do if they could always find what they looking for online, 2 percent of the respondents said they'd be willing to give up their spouse to do so. Men were statistically more likely than women to say that, the surveyors noted.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

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