Teachers need to know how to help students evaluate websites, especially in a world where misinformation is rampant. Here are some things to look for:
Poor language: Obviously, websites with lots of spelling and grammar mistakes should be a red flag. Additionally, if the site uses urgency or fear inducing language, it may be trying to trick visitors into downloading malware or giving up their credentials.
1. Dihydrogen Monoxide
Dihydrogen Monoxide, also known as DHMO or H2O, is a colorless, odorless chemical compound. It is the basis of many caustic, explosive and poisonous compounds.
DHMO is deadly in its gaseous form and causes severe burns when it comes into contact with skin. It is the major cause of acid rain and accelerates rusting and corrosion on metals.
The site spoofs the Coalition to Ban Dihydrogen Monoxide and is an example of a hoax website. It is an excellent example of how a parody or satire can be used to teach students about website Visit Is Legit or Scam evaluation.
The Internet is full of information, but that doesn’t mean it’s all true. Students are often trained to look for certain factors when evaluating online content, including who wrote it, what evidence supports the claims, and how up-to-date the information is.
One way to test your students’ ability to evaluate websites is by sharing fake ones with them. For example, the GenoChoice website allows parents to genetically modify their children. This site is particularly difficult to catch as it looks very trustworthy at first glance.
3. Tree Octopus
Despite being able to travel on the water and in trees, the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus is threatened with extinction. It is believed this rare animal was overharvested for use in fashionable hats. Its habitat is under threat due to pollution, logging and other human activities.
A 1998 website created by Lyle Zapato about the fictitious creature has been used in studies of Internet literacy. When seventh graders were asked to evaluate the site, they all found it to be credible.