Sunday, May 15, 2016

The High Cost of Trust

Trusting information turned tragic when Wei Zexi, from Shaanxi province in China, died on April 12 after undergoing experimental medical treatment promoted on Baidu, the Chinese search equivalent of Google.

The typical hasty grab for digital information is seldom so terminal, but the common denominator is a failure to investigate.  What's different in Wei's case is that Baidu is criticized for failing to investigate the claims made by the advertisers it promoted in search results.

So, who's to blame? A search engine for failing to vet its advertisements? A student for believing information provided by a search engine?

It's always a problem of what or whom to trust. It cannot be assumed a search engine can be trusted, even if the ads at the top of the page are paid by a hospital. It should be interesting how the case will be resolved in China. Breaking Baidu's search engine monopoly, which has been suggested, isn't necessarily an answer. Training searchers to investigate the information for themselves is a more responsible and trustworthy solution.

Start investigating here

Information Fluency Investigative Challenges

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