Over the past decade, the internet has become the primary source of information for the general population. Simply by typing a query into a search box, search engines can provide millions of websites in just a few seconds. Although the plethora of information available can be valuable, the immense amount of misinformation can be dangerous. Search engines can produce websites that have outdated or irrelevant information which can be counterproductive to the inquirers cause. The social medium that I have chosen to research is Facebook. Tensen provides a checklist for evaluating the credibility of sources. The six categories are as follows: Purpose, source, intended audience, date of publication, appearance, and reputation. Using these requirements as a checklist, I determined the credibility of the sources I found using the search engines.
In order to prevent bias results, I have chosen two different keyword phrases to type into each engine. These constant variables will ensure that each search engine provides websites on the same inquiry. After evaluating the sources, I will be able to determine which search engine was most effective. The two keyword phrases I used were: “Facebook History” and “Facebook as a social network”.
When searching for “Facebook history” I utilized three different search engines; Google, Yahoo, and Ebsco (an online database). Google provided me with the most relevant sources for my query. Compared to the other search engines, Google provided credible and informative websites. Of my research, there were two websites I found were acceptable under the standards of Tansen. They were Wikipedia and an article from Rolling stone Magazine. The sources I felt that were unreliable was an article found in the Ebsco database and a website called Mashable.
Wikipedia did not cater to advertising companies, and had an organized page layout. Even though the information came from multiple authors it was reliable and to the point. The bottom of the page indicated that the information was updated on October 19th 2008, meaning the information was current. Wikipedia also provided a list of references and citations where they derived their information from. If a student wanted to check the credibility of the information on Wikipedia, he/she could check the references that were used to compile information. The article, Battle For Facebook, written by Claire Hoffman was also a valuable source. The article was featured in Rolling Stone Magazine, a reputable organization. Rolling Stone has a large subscriber base, and undergoes heavy scrutiny. It is unlikely that an article would be printed if it had misinformation. The article was published in the summer of 2008, making the information relatively current.
The sources that I acquired from Yahoo and Ebsco were inefficient and lacked sufficient information. Facebook- The Complete Biography, an article found on Yahoo, had a noticeable bias. The site claims to have a complete biography, yet most of the page was filled with advertisements and links to facebook. The intention of the website was not to be informative, it was to direct the audience towards a specific marketing aspect. Coupled with the outdated publication date, this source would not be my primary reference for information. Ebsco proved to be even more disappointing than Yahoo. I had a predetermined notion that Ebsco would be the strongest of the three search engines. Professor’s are inclined to recommend this search engine because it contains strong academic literature. However, Ebsco came up empty for my query. This may be attributed to the fact that very few or no academic or intellectual articles have been written about the History of Facebook. Nevertheless, Ebsco was unable to provide me with the sources I required and therefore it was useless.
My second query, “Facebook as a social network” yielded similar results. Google once again yielded a Wikipedia article as the most informative source. Ebsco provided a semi relevant article to my query. An online journal called Polish 'Temporary' Migration: The Formation and Significance of Social Networks, provided useful information about the structure of social networks and their impact on society. Although it did not deal with facebook directly, it would be an informative source to use for a research paper. These two sources were the best because they displayed no advertising, I trusted the content in each, one was a journal written by a professor who had pertinent knowledge on the subject matter. Both of these pieces of literature are up to date and are in my eyes the best sources I found.
Sources that I did not find to be helpful and creditable were two websites from yahoo. One was Cnet, a advertising sight for downloading programs. It contained limited information and took a negative approach to facebook. It looked like a legitimate website but it just was not up to par. The next one that I did not like was an article found on Dailsalery.com. This webpage was not informative, cluttered with ads, and did provide sources or an author.
As you can see I have determined the best site to get reliable creditable sources is Google. Also, there is a process when going through different websites to determine the quality of the source.
Tensen, Bonnie L. (2004). Research strategies for a digital age (chapter 5). Boston: Wadsworth