Who Is Responsible for the Accuracy of Web Pages?

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Results from a 2002 study published in the British Medical Journal found that, among medical websites, credibility did not necessarily equate to accuracy. (Reference 2) The sheer size of the World Wide Web makes it impossible for any one entity to determine and police the accuracy of web pages. (Reference 1)

The Law

  • The Internet is recognized by the U.S. Congress as a free market that will not be restricted by state or federal law. (Reference 3) However, this does not override existing criminal law, intellectual property law, state law or communications privacy law. (Reference 3)

Accuracy Statements

  • Some websites publish statements or disclaimers regarding their accuracy. See the About page on Maryland.gov for an example.

Organizational Policy

  • Some organizations have internal documents that assign the responsibility for web content to administrators or other staff.

Self-evaluation

  • Susan E. Beck, collection development coordinator at the New Mexico State University Library, recommends evaluating websites based on the following criteria: authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency and coverage.

Phishing

  • In phishing scams, fraudulent emails are sent to get access to your personal information. Often the links in these emails, which are visible when you hover over them with your mouse, will point to a website not affiliated with the organization they claim to be.

References

  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Scott Davidson
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