Atlas Thesis Project: Blatant Lies

by Lauren Monitz

Have you ever wondered how much information on the internet is actually legitimate, well- researched news or knowledge? More often than not, people assume a site's credibility if it looks even remotely professional, as opposed to just some average Joe posting crap he heard from the bum across the street. I know I'm guilty of it, and I'm sure most of my classmates are, as well. We want to trust what we read and hear as opposed to not trusting anyone or anything. I think this is mostly because the internet was created to be a tool as opposed to a research hindrance. And let's face it, we're lazy. We often just trust the first answer to a question we find because verifying the information would take that much more effort.

But in reality, anyone can claim whatever they want on the web about any subject- academic or personal just to share information or express a point of view. People should be much more critical and skeptical of things they read on the internet and take everything with a grain of salt. There are plenty of sites denying the Holocaust happened, denying man landed on the moon, Ward Churchill-like ramblings, and basic logical fallacies that are “supported” with numerous facts, pictures and statistics claimed as evidence. Let's explore just how naïve people can be about things they read on the internet.

For my thesis project, I created a fake liquor and spirits consumer report blog. It is 100% fabricated by me with loosely related sources, completely made-up content, and a makeshift professional design look. Let this serve as a warning to you- don't believe everything you read.

View the Blog Here


Ways to generate traffic, readers and interest to your blog (or at least what I did):

*Facebook- I posted a note with the blog address to my profile and also had a few select friends in different locations around the country repost the note to their profiles so entirely different groups of friends would see it.

*Google Groups- I stumbled upon this looking for the blogger help section. They are discussion boards about blogger, how to's, and interesting new blogs. By merely including your link in a few generic posts, interested parties will visit your site and give you feedback.

*Digg.com- Digg is a site where users post interesting news articles they find. It is basically an entire database of offbeat stories. By friending random users with high levels of activity, a lot of them read and commented on my postings since I visited theirs.

*Yourhub.com- Your hub is a local news site where you can post interesting stories and interact with folks in your town. I posted a few of my stories up there, but after a few days got kicked off for using a fake name. Go figure. (More on this in the reaction section).

*Craig's list- By adding a few threads to some generic discussion boards about nightlife, community news and the world, visitors got curious and clicked on the link.

*AIM- By simply putting the link as my instant messenger away message for a few days, my friends became curious and visted the site, which generated direct traffic. Friends always give trustworthy opinions about new and interesting stuff they find on the web.

*Blog Explosion- Blogexplosion.com is one of the easiest ways to get people to view your page, but maybe not spend a great deal of time interacting with it. By randomly viewing other people's blogs, you generate traffic credits in which the same amount of people must return the favor and check yours out.


Research question #1: So, what exactly makes a website look credible or believable?

Research question #3: What was the overall reaction and response?