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Web of Deception:
Misinformation on the Internet

Editied by Anne P. Mintz

Information Today, Inc., 2002, 275 pp.,
ISBN 0-910965-60-9, Price $37.95

Reviewed by Pamela Putman

Heard the one about Costa Rican bananas carrying flesh-eating bacteria? How about antiperspirants causing breast cancer? These and other Internet myths are debunked in Web of Deception: Misinformation on the Internet. Edited by Anne P. Mintz, the director of knowledge management at Forbes Inc., the book provides a comprehensive review of various pitfalls that casual users and professionals alike should watch out for while surfing the Net.

Mintz and her merry band of myth breakers -- ten contributors who range from database experts, to consultants to librarians -- work very hard to guide the reader through intentionally misleading and erroneous information on the Web. The types of deceptive Internet activity covered include counterfeit Web sites, Web hoaxes, medical misinformation, identity theft, privacy invasion, consumer fraud, corporate deception and dubious legal advice.

Other chapters go on to provide valuable information on evaluating Web sites and using search engines.

The authors have a tendency at times to sensationalize the Net's capacity for providing less than reliable information, without reminding their audience of the incredible contribution it has made to society as a whole. It should be obvious to Internet users that it is important to take a few moments to consider where the material you are seeking is coming from and who is producing it, especially if you rely on it as a source of personal and professional information. If you don't approach the information highway with caution, you may fall victim to the Web's inaccuracies, partial truths and fraud.

Perhaps the best information provided in the book is this: Be smart. Don't turn off your brain when you turn on your computer.




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