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Copyright 2000-2014 by Barbara Brabec. All Rights Reserved.
Telling the Good Guys from the Bad
The Internet is rampant with con artists and businesses that have questionable reputations, and even pros sometimes find it hard to tell the good guys from those who wear black hats. All one has to do is click the wrong link in an email or on the wrong website to find themselves in a world of computer grief or financial loss.
by Barbara Brabec
AN EMAIL FROM one of my long-time readers reminded me once again that there are a lot of newbies surfing the Web without any real understanding of how the Internet works. Like my father, who died long before the Internet was a part of our lives, many people believe everything they read, whether in a book, in an email, or on a website. They don't understand how much of that information is incorrect, out-of-date, misleading, or dangerous. The Internet is rampant with con artists and businesses that have questionable reputations, and even pros sometimes find it hard to tell the good guys from those who wear black hats. All one has to do is click the wrong link in an email or on the wrong website to find themselves in a world of computer grief or financial loss.
For example, one might think that anyone who advertises with Google ads are "the good guys" on the Web, but discernment is also needed here, and you must never think that a Google ad on anyone's site is an endorsement of that advertiser's products or services by the site owner.
"I'm thinking about working with Writers Literary Agency for a children's book I want to have published," one of my long-time readers wrote. She had found the link on my site and had assumed I was recommending the company. But the link she clicked was simply a Google ad, not one of the helpful resources I had personally checked out. When I wrote back to explain that there were numerous complaints about this particular company, she said, "I spend very little time on the Internet and your newsletter and site are the only locations that I completely trust. I didn't realize I had clicked an advertisement on your site, and not one of your personal recommendations."
Google randomly generates the ads that site owners place on their website by adding a few lines of HTML code. The site owner has no control over these ads, other than to log into Google and indicate ads they don't want included for one reason or another. Frankly, I don't have time to constantly monitor the many Google ads that populate my website pages and blacklist undesirable ads in my Google account. Like most everyone else, I am trusting that my site visitors will use discernment when dealing with ANY advertiser on the Web.
The writer of the above email is way ahead of most folks her age, but she readily admits that she has a "high Internet handicap." So many website owners just assume that everyone knows how the Web works, but they don't. I have a legal disclaimer on my site that clearly states that, unless stated otherwise, I do not "guarantee, approve or endorse" the products or services linked to on my site, but I'm sure very few (if any) website visitors ever take the time to read a site's legal disclaimer.
All this is simply to say that those of us who are savvy about the Web cannot automatically assume that everyone else is.