Hugh Pickens writes writes: "When a frustrated computer programmer created a fake website and press release about a study showing Internet Explorer users are not as smart as people who used other browsers, major media organizations fell for the hoax. How could this embarrassment--and an instance of misinforming the public--have been avoided? Jennifer Dorroh writes about the steps every internet journalist should take for verifying information found on the web: Start with a Whois lookup on the domain to see who has registered the url. Then check the Internet archive to get a feel for the overall history of the site. Check the site's Google PageRank. If the page rank is high, that probably means credible sites have been linking to it. Run blog and news searches to see if the person, topic or company has been talked about before. "Check names. Do they have a personal history? Is the name drawn from history or literature," writes Dorroh. "Hoaxers often like to be clever by giving themselves historical names." Finally when a news organization does decide to report something that isn't 100 percent confirmed, they should make it very clear that "this is what we know, this is what we don't know, this hasn't been confirmed," says Craig Silverman, editorial director of OpenFile.ca and editor and author of Regret the Error. "It's important to be brave and transparent about what you don't have.""
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