Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Just because it's on the Internet
The Internet is great. I love it.
There's so much to do, see and learn online. I could spend every waking hour surfing the Web. I play games, read Facebook posts, do family history research and more.
While there is so much available on the Web, that doesn't mean it's okay to take it.
One issue is truth. Just because it's online, doesn't make it true. I see this all the time with forwarded emails (less so now) and shared posts on Facebook (all. the. time.).
People see a Facebook post that they agree with - or disagree with - and they have to share it, often with their opinion on the subject matter.
They rarely check to see if it's true.
Sometimes these are innocuous things, like faith-promoting stories. But other times it may be health advice (water can save you from a heart attack! Well, no, actually.) or stories of abducted or sick children (those two boys kidnapped from their grandparents? They were returned safely to the grandparents days later, so sharing their photos now won't help anybody.).
Let's not even get started on sick baby hoaxes. Just read this, please.
Some of those links may be viral in nature. That video that says they found Flight 370? Wrong. It links to a video streaming website.
I check things out with Snopes.com, Hoax-slayer.com and other hoax-busting sites. If it's a news item, I check CNN.com or other news sites.
Then there's copyright issues and plagiarism.
Would you believe that there are people claiming to be professional photographers who post other photographers' work on their websites as if they had taken those photos? It's true. Ironically, the latest post features a photo taken by the person who has the Stop Stealing Photos website, used by a so-called photographer without permission.
This type of thing happens to bloggers, as well. Blogger A discovers her text (and sometimes photos) used on Blogger B's site as though they originated with Blogger B. There's an element of creeper here - having your kids' photos claimed by a stranger. Not good.
There's also been controversy in the genealogy community over a website owned by a particular person with content gleaned from other websites and sources.
And, lastly, research issues. There are a multitude of places people can put up their family trees: Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.com, WikiTree.org and more, as well as their personal websites.
There is temptation when you see a family tree with familiar names to include it in your own tree, but beware. You don't know how good or accurate that person's research is. If you attach it to your tree, but later discover errors, it will be difficult to get the false information out.
Just keep the link to that tree, so you can access it later, but verify the information before including it in your own genealogy.
It will save a lot of hassles later on.