Example of Misinformation Spreading on the Internet

I recently became a “librarian” on Goodreads, which means I have rights to edit and update content, which is fantastic. There are a lot of volunteer “librarians,” 777 as of today, which is great because that means 1554 eyes are constantly checking out the Goodreads catalog fixing errors and updating content, hopefully correctly. There is also a discussion board, which I subscribe to daily to see what the latest is. An interesting posting came up a couple days ago about a book cover that was incorrect. Here is how the discussion went (edited down for simplicity’s sake):

Discussion poster 1: The cover showing for Paul Thomas’ Dirty Laundry is actually the cover for some edition of Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay.

Discussion poster 2: Amazon’s cover image was automatically added. They have the wrong cover attached to this book. I uploaded, what I believe to be, the correct cover.

Discussion poster 3: I’m impressed! Every site I looked at has the same incorrect cover as Amazon (talk about misinformation spreading faster than good information!) — where did you get the right one?

Discussion poster 2: Wow – I couldn’t remember where I found it and when I tried to find it again, I had a hard time.

I got it here:

Discussion poster 3: I’m going to have to add that site to my list. Too many sites get theirs from Amazon, so when theirs is wrong or missing . . .

And it’s true! There are probably hundreds of book distribution and information sites that upload their content directly from Amazon. In this case, here is Amazon’s record – clearly not the right cover. OCLC’s WorldCat doesn’t have the right cover; (granted, this is really a link to Amazon’s record). And ABEBooks. Who knows where else.

You know in most information literacy classes, students are taught how to evaluate websites by verifying a given fact with multiple sources. The example above is an easy error to spot since it’s clearly not the right book cover, but what other facts could be lingering online, conferred by multiple sources simply because all those sources got their information from one inaccurate source?


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