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Verifying Information Online
The invention of the internet with the almost daily advances in electronic and social media can seem overwhelming. The positive and negative aspect of the internet remains that information is flying around at lightening speeds, and can be sent out with the click of a mouse. When the online information is accurate having access to the internet is a wonderful benefit for anyone needing the information at hand. However, when misinformation is propagated and forwarded relentlessly online it has by default proven to be a great disservice to everyone and can actually be dangerous.
The information on the internet is only as accurate as the person who placed it online. One should definitely consider the source from which he or she access information via the internet. Almost everyone has a way to access the internet, whether it is through a smart phone to send or receive email, using a free internet connection at a local library or accessing one of multiple social media sites from home.
As the internet evolves everyone needs to be held to a new standard of accountability. Many people will implicitly forward any little bit of information received from someone they know and trust based on the fact that it must be true if mom, dad, sissy, or my friend sent it to me. People tend not to question the accuracy of anything received from someone they know. When it comes to the internet it is imperative that any information provided be question for its validity.
Often people will choose to believe something based on someone’s professional credentials. Information provided by a doctor, lawyer, nurse, or other professional is not automatically factual. Any and all information should be processed for its accuracy and validity. If something does not make sense then question the source. Just because it is on the internet does not make it accurate, safe, or true.
When one receives electronic information whether it is a new virus warning or information about a dying, missing, or kidnapped child the information must be verified before blindly forwarding. This has never been more important than now. Verify before forwarding. Forwarding inaccurate information is simply irresponsible.
For example, there are numerous emails circulating the web with pictures a missing child named Reachelle Marie Smith. However, many of the emails contain grossly inaccurate information. Reachelle Marie Smith is an actual missing child case and her disappearance is NOT a hoax. A child by the name of Reachelle Marie Smith has been missing from Minot, North Dakota since May 17, 2006.
The best source to verify missing child information is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The website is located at www.missingkids.com. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children or NCMEC is a nationwide clearing house and resource for missing and exploited children. The NCMEC provides information ranging from what a parent should do if their child is missing to reporting a possible sighting of a missing or abducted child. The NCMEC also maintains a 24 hour national hotline 1-800-THE-LOST or 1-800-843-5678.
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