Popular Internet Myths (Some) Americans Still Believe in 2020

Internet Myths

The internet has revolutionized how we share and consume information. Finding the answer to any question is now just a quick internet search away. The problem is, there’s just as much false as there is correct information on the web, and some internet myths have become modern-day urban legends that many believe.

Elaborate hoaxes and disinformation campaigns are all over the internet. Sometimes, it’s hard to know what’s real and what isn’t. For this reason, we’ve put together a list of the most popular internet myths Americans believe. Let’s get to it!

Everything You Read on the Internet is True

Let’s start with the big one. Literally, anyone worldwide with an internet connection can build a website and share information, opinions, and thoughts. With website builders, it’s easy to create a website without extensive tech knowledge and populate it with the content of your choice, whether factual or not.

The problem with this concept is that you never really know its source when you read something on the internet. People are notorious for skimming content and sharing it via social media without first verifying its authenticity. A lot of misinformation is spread this way.

Just like more traditional sources of information, such as books and magazine articles, content on the internet needs to be carefully assessed before you take it at face value. In other words, it’s crucial always to consider the source of information to determine if it’s trustworthy.

Evaluating the Credibility of Information on the Internet

Fortunately, it’s usually relatively easy to evaluate the credibility of information on the internet. For starters, you should consider the web address itself. If it ends in .gov or .edu, it’s probably reliable. Also, look for a person’s name in the URL, which provides a lot of information about the source.

For online articles, look for the author’s name and date of publication. A quick search of the author’s name should provide you with more information about that person. If the article is old, think about whether it contains the kind of information that changes quickly. You can also read a site’s “About” page when assessing if it’s a trustworthy source.

You should approach all online information with healthy skepticism. Consider the source and check to see if the information is repeated anywhere else, as the same information coming from several different sources is another indication of trustworthy information.

The Internet Will Make You Rich

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the dotcom boom made a few visionary and lucky entrepreneurs a lot of money. Since then, the internet has been seen by some as a magic bullet for business. While it’s true that the internet provides substantial marketing opportunities, online enterprises succeed or fail based on the same principles as any other business.

While it’s tempting to see the millions of users online as a seemingly endless customer base for your business, this is not necessarily true. Online companies have to be discovered and marketed like any other business, and effective online marketing can be challenging.

Online marketing involves complicated advertising models designed to draw traffic to your website, but even lots of traffic does not necessarily translate into sales. Also, savvy Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical for the success of many websites.

The truth is that the internet is a communication tool that can be great for business, but it’s unlikely to make you rich. Hard work, savvy advertising, excellent customer relations, and a quality product are required for a business to succeed, whether online or offline.

Your Internet Service Provider Is Tracking Your Every Move

Your Internet Service Provider or ISP is your local link to the worldwide web known as the internet. When you send an email or click on a page, your request travels through your ISP router first. For this reason, many believe that your ISP has the power to record and save every bit of information that passes through it.

While it’s true that your ISP does have this power, no known company has the money or resources to log and save all of that data, and that includes the giants like AT&T Internet. It’s too expensive for companies to do something like this, not to mention the controversy it would stir up regarding people’s privacy in the United States.

Nevertheless, ISPs do have the power to begin recording this information if the person in question is part of a criminal investigation or Homeland Security target. This information is commonly used in cases involving terrorism or child pornography.

The real issue in the United States is ISPs partnering up with advertisers to collect online behavioral data on people. Marketing companies can use this information to cater to websites and advertisements to particular individuals. This is seen by many as a breach of privacy and is a hot topic.

The Internet Is Packed With Sexual Predators

Another internet myth that many believe is that sexual predators are all over the internet. Shows like “To Catch a Predator” on NBC make it seem like they’re everywhere. The truth is, it isn’t as prevalent as it seems.

The internet has not created more child predators. Instead, it has provided a new way for those that already exist to stalk underage sexual victims. While this is an uncomfortable subject, it’s essential to realize that most predatory crimes are statutory rape rather than sexual assault, meaning they weren’t forced.

The lesson here is how critical it is to teach children and teens how to safely use the internet. Everyone needs to know how to approach online relationships with skepticism and avoid risky online behavior. Teens also need to be taught about healthy relationships.

Al Gore Invented the Internet

This internet myth was born out of media coverage of a 1999 interview for CNN in which Al Gore overstated his involvement in the creation of the internet. After being asked about what experience he brought to the table for his presidential campaign, Gore replied by saying:

“During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the internet.”

The media jumped on this quote. One article used the term “invented the internet,” and it blew up from there. The phrase was repeated over and over again, even though Gore never actually said it.

Of course, what he did say was still somewhat exaggerated, but not surprising given that he was running for president at the time. While Gore did coin the phrase “information superhighway” and supported legislation that helped the internet expand, computer scientists Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn are credited with inventing the internet.

Other Common Internet Myths

Like we mentioned earlier, the internet is filled with false information, and some of it is put there on purpose by people either trying to trick others or as a practical joke. Here are a few other common internet myths you might have heard.

The Internet Was Developed for Military Use

It’s tempting to believe that the military is continuously looking for ways to exploit technology for war, but in this case, that’s not true. Although the military does use the internet today, the organization did not explore this technology until after it was developed.

A Shark Attack Could Bring Down the Country’s Internet

There’s a story that sharks can bite vital subsea cables and take out the entire internet in one go. While those subsea cables are crucial, they are protected against the undersea phenomenon by steel wire. So far, there have been zero reports of damage from sharks.

The Internet Is Unlimited

Many people have this idea that cyberspace is vast and infinite, but every bit of data has to come from somewhere. The internet is run by a network of data centers and organizations with physical resources that provide internet connectivity, transfer, and storage. The truth is, the internet remains tied to the physical world.

Conspiracy Theories

Lastly, the internet is full of hoaxes and elaborate jokes. From emails claiming you’ll receive payments from Bill Gates for forwarding the email to stories that Apple is developing a toilet with internet access called the iLoo, conspiracy theories are everywhere online. Most of them are either scams to obtain personal information and money or joke stories that serve as social experiments to see how many people are willing to share them.

Final Thoughts

The internet is ever-changing and developing, and it’s easy to get caught up in misinformation and internet myths. It’s critical to view information on the internet with a certain amount of healthy skepticism. Even if something looks legitimate, you should always verify its source before citing or sharing.

In a relatively short amount of time, the internet has become our primary source of information. For the most part, encyclopedias are a thing of the past. The problem is that vetting information has become more difficult in a world that’s always changing. It’s critical to realize that not everything you read on the internet is accurate and that, while it is an excellent tool for marketing, the internet is not a get-rich-quick scheme.

Omar Youssef

Omar attended Clemson University in South Carolina where studied computer information systems and fell in love with the field. He also likes playing video games, reading fantasy and self-improvement books, and learning from people who are smarter than him.