We rely on Google to find facts and information on any topic. But since Google doesn’t verify every link, it’s not always wise to trust the data it provides you.
Google algorithms like PageRank have gotten better at evaluating a website’s experience and trustworthiness. But incorrect information can creep in, or we as readers can make mistakes when interpreting search results.
Some subjects need expert eyes. And that’s why it’s always best to tread carefully when exploring these seven sensitive topics.
1. Medical information
We don’t have to live in a state of uncertainty when we don’t feel well. Google allows us to instantly diagnose our symptoms. However, there’s a reason behind the “Don’t trust Google” signs at your doctor’s office.
Medical sites do not have access to your records. Thus, they end up suggesting all possible causes and treatments for a symptom, not specific to your case.
For example, although a fever is technically one of the symptoms of cancer, it doesn’t mean you have it. Most likely you are suffering from just a common cold. So, you need to have a proper checkup and consult a real doctor before coming to any conclusion.
2. Financial advice
Taking care of your finances can be a demanding process. But Google is the last place you should look for advice.
Google’s trove of data is, at best, a complementary resource for your financial research. On a search engine, you will find a variety of opinions and articles that may confuse or cloud your judgment. A direct query on a particular investment will show a large number of links, and it will be difficult to gauge which one offers solid guidance.
Therefore, you should stick to more credible financial research platforms and not a search engine like Google to base your final decisions on and understand market trends.
3. Conspiracy theories
Another topic to stay away from at Google is conspiracy theories. Controversial arguments tend to drive the most traffic online. Some websites exploit this by talking about theories that would generate more clicks and stimulate conversations.
Google is home to the wildest stories on the internet, which often rank high just because they’re popular. Even for folklore as absurd as Bigfoot, you’ll find enough evidence to convince someone (or just yourself). And that’s just within the first few pages, you don’t even need to go down the rabbit hole.
For example, searching Google for “Bigfoot sightings” will easily lead you to numerous compilations of supposedly real photos of Bigfoot sightings.
4. Latest news
Misinformation is rampant on the web, and like other online platforms, Google has also struggled to control the spread of fake news. The effects of the problem are magnified during a breaking event. In such scenarios, details are scarce, giving rise to hoaxes and rumours.
While Google has security measures in place to address misinformation, they are often not activated immediately. By the time Google removes a fake story, it’s very likely that it’s been read by millions.
So when you start Google right after there’s a breaking news alert, you risk running into reports based on speculation. A better alternative is to browse directly to specific sites and news sources that you trust instead of Google.
5. Religious practices
Google offers a wealth of resources for people looking to become more religiously informed. However, it is also in a constant battle with racial prejudice and discrimination. As you do your research, you will come across sites that favor certain religions. It is difficult to judge the veracity of these web pages when you are new to the subject.
In her book “Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism,” Safiya Umoja Noble argues that search engines like Google are not “reliable and credible public information portals,” saying they are discriminatory and favor the groups that designed or funded them. .
This information monopoly is a threat to democracy…
Since Google’s algorithms are influenced by what the majority of its users are searching for, minorities may end up being misrepresented.
6. Product reviews and recommendations
Most of us look for product reviews when making a purchase. But you should not blindly trust all the reviews and recommendations.
While there are sites that post unbiased first-hand reviews, a large number of websites are run by affiliate marketers trying to get rich quick. They post bragging articles about even the worst products, hoping to earn a commission for every sale made through their link. But this doesn’t mean you can’t trust online reviews.
Here are some of the differences between honest product reviews and misleading ones.
- If the review reads like a piece of puff pastry and doesn’t mention any drawbacks, take it with a pinch of salt.
- If there are no self-taken pictures of the actual product, it is likely that the reviewer has not used the product.
- The author’s lack of details indicates that you should not rely too much on them.
- Untrustworthy sites often rephrase product descriptions rather than provide their own opinion.
Besides these, several other signs can help you spot a fake review.
When it comes to chemicals, even a minor mistake can prove fatal. So, if there’s a detail related to a chemical that you’re not sure about, turning to the Google search engine might not be the best way forward. Google is known to host a variety of conflicting data, and deciding which one to trust can be challenging.
Like medical platforms, chemical sites do not have access to your environmental circumstances and properties, such as ambient room temperature.
This also applies to the use of chemicals in settings outside of the laboratory. For example, the debate about whether the presence of chlorine in swimming pools has an adverse effect on health has divided the Internet for a long time.
As an alternative to Google, you can check the official websites of chemistry boards and associations.
Don’t trust Wikipedia data either
One of the biggest misconceptions about the Internet is that the information on Wikipedia is always vetted and accurate. That is far from the truth. Most of the content on Wikipedia is crowdsourced and can be edited by anyone.
Contrary to popular belief, the site does not have a fact-checking team of human curators. all. So while Wikipedia is harmless when it comes to basic facts, you should check what you find there against other fact-checking sites that are more reliable than Wikipedia.
Use Google filters for reliable searches
Google processes thousands of queries every second and is one of the best inventions on the Internet. But its search engine algorithms have also allowed deceptive websites to flourish. While there are a handful of other issues you shouldn’t rely on Google for, the ones we discuss here top that list.
One of the methods you can use to limit yourself to trusted sources is Google’s set of search filters.