Avoiding internet pitfalls

ByElsa Sc S

Doing her graduation from LUMS & a keen researcher


November 26, 2022

Avoiding internet pitfalls

Elsa Sc S looks at the unprecedented global

Avoiding internet pitfalls is an unprecedented phenomenon that has enveloped the entire globe and its impact is exceedingly pervasive. In the early 1990s, as the internet was first coming into widespread use then-U.S. vice-president Al Gore referred to it as the beginning of an information superhighway that would allow homes, schools and businesses to send and receive massive amounts of data. Affordable smart phones and reliable Wi-Fi have broadened internet use around the world and made it possible to be connected almost constantly. This mushroom growth has raised new questions about privacy protection and how to control hate speech and misinformation. These difficulties imply that a regulatory regime is voluntarily adhered to in order to avoid the pitfalls inherent in the internet.

Don’t shout!
“If it’s in caps I’m trying to YELL!” an early internet user wrote in 1984 referring to the caps lock key as a crutch for the angry and inarticulate. Caps lock, one linguist says, makes readers aware of the shout and not the nuance of what a poster is trying to say. In short, if you want to get a point across, this might not be the best way

Check your dates
Have you ever seen an obituary for a well-known person on social media and thought that the death occurred sometime before. Old news stories going viral on social media long after their publication date has become remarkably common. Many analysts notice that many of the stories are harmless, but some amount to spreading disinformation. Several news organizations now flag potentially dated stories.

Check your sources
Anyone can post about anything on the internet and it can be hard for the untrained eye to distinguish between the website of a legitimate newspaper or research centre, a personal or corporate blog and a site that publishes propaganda, satire or fake news. Make sure to know where a story comes from before sharing it—or deciding not to.

Consider the context
When one speaks to someone face to face, one can often learn how the speaker feels about a subject from non-verbal cues like tone of voice and body language. As one reads what they write in an email or a social media post, one does not have that context. Before writing, consider what the speaker might read into the post and analyse if one sounds annoyed, sarcastic or overly cheerful. A few carefully chosen emojis might help you get the point across.

Hate speech on social media is still hate speech
Instances of hate speech are on the rise yet the US regulations are quite lax in this matter. It should be borne in mind that most internet portals originate from the US, therefore, the regulatory stringency appears to be missing.

Keep intimate images of other people to oneself
It is imperative not to share intimate images of another person without their consent. This tendency has caused widespread furore worldwide and should be shunned.

Be careful of online medical advice
More and more of people reach for Google when they start feeling unwell but an analysis found that some of the most widely shared health information on the internet is fake. If one looks up one’s symptoms one is advised to choose credible sites that publish expert-reviewed summaries of hundreds of diseases and conditions.

Protect one’s privacy and that of others
It is also important that even accidentally private information is not shared in large groups or public forums. When forwarding an email, a sender must delete any information that was meant to be between the sender and the addressee. When commenting on a social media post, making sure that the sender knows how to send a private message, how to make a post visible to a particular group and how to make a post public.

Stop spreading rumours
Before sharing a rumour on social media, check fact-checking sites to see if the story has any basis in fact. The unchecked spread of rumours on Facebook and WhatsApp has led to many upheavals. Fake news and online rumours can have a devastating impact on real people, so one should think before sharing. TW

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