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Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do

Variability of Web Credibility

The Web can be a highly credible source of information, depending on the person or organization behind a given Web site (the site operator ). The Web also can be one of the least credible information sources. Many pages on the Web reflect incompetence, and some are pure hoaxes. You ve probably been to Web sites that not only lacked expertise, but seem designed to deceive. Because few barriers prevent people from publishing on the Web, you ll find deceptive coverage of current events, health information that is factually incorrect, and ads that promise the impossible.

One notable example of bogus information online was designed to teach investors about online fraud and persuade people to be more skeptical about what they find online. At mcwhortle.com, Web surfers read that McWhortle Enterprises is an established and well-known manufacturer of biological defense mechanisms. As surfers browse this site, they see an About Us page, along with a doctored photograph of the company headquarters in Washington, D.C., contact information, and testimonials. The company site claims to have technology to produce a portable biohazard alert detector and seeks outside funding. As Web surfers investigate more and click on the link that says, When you are ready to invest, click here, the ruse is made known, with the heading Watch out! If you responded to an investment idea like this . . . You could get scammed! and a message below indicating that the site was posted by various government agencies, including the...

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