Can we trust the information we find online?
The general answer is NO, but we all behave as if it was YES.
Personally I see example of it even when I look online for simple information like train schedules or traffic jam conditions. Ever happened to be warned of a major traffic jam ahead and find no traffic whatsoever? Did everybody hear the news and auto-magically disappear from the road?
At a very high level, we can consider two ways in which untrustable (misleading or plainly wrong) news are posted online:
- non-intentional or unwilling mistakes due to careleness, untrustable sources, even technical errors in collecting the data;
- intentional fake information, eg. “Fake News”, distributed for a purpose usually not moral or legal and at someone particular advantage.
The first goes in the “mistakes” category that hopefully sooner or later will be fixed, but the second goes in the “intentional attacks” category. Unfortunately misusing people trust and conditioning their opinions and actions with “Fake News” is becoming more and more common (just read the news themselves!), to the point that some of these techniques seem to have leaked also to everyday advertising and political campaigning.
Thinking about this, it came back to my mind the “Information Operations Kill Chain” which I read some time ago in Bruce Schneier’s blog here and which I suggest to read and consider.
PS. I am not aware of further developments on this, but if there are, please point them out.