The sheer amount of information available on the internet is overwhelming. I can't think of a single thing the internet wouldn't have the answers to.
The answer to pretty much any question we don't already know the answer to is "Google it". This is great assuming the information comes from a valid source, but how much of it does?
I don't know the official facts and figures (maybe I should Google it!) but my guess would be probably around 30%. The rest comes from a mixture of genuine people who have no idea that what they are posting is wrong, things that were right once but haven't been updated to reflect changes and people who intentionally want to mislead others.
That's without even touching on spoof sites that people somehow don't realise are a spoof and online newspapers that print their version of an event without getting the full story.
So how do you know whether the information you have found and are trusting is correct? I don't think there's a fool proof answer, but a general guideline would be to use official sites, or to take the information with a pinch of salt. Look at more than one site. Does the information tally? Generally if there is a lot of agreement, I would tend to believe the information.
What I find really scary is the amount of information you can find online about people. Seriously - Google yourself, the results will shock you.
I just tried it with and without the name of my town. There were a lot more hits without the town name, but none of the additional ones (at least not on the first two pages, I didn't check any further) were me.
Simply by typing in my name I found all my social media accounts - this I expected and I don't post anything I would be worried about people finding out.
I also found my full postal address and mobile number, and my place of work and its full address and phone number.
The most weird one was a site I have never heard of which listed a few places I have been to recently. I find this weird because I never "check in" my location on any social media.
This just goes to show even if you don't choose to check in, wherever you post anything from is still logged and made available. A stalker's dream in other words.
Although I found this kind of freaky, I am a total internet addict and I will continue to use the internet in the same way. Overall, I think the good outweighs the bad. The sort of people that would use that information against you are usually the same sort of people who would find another way to gain it if it wasn't so readily available.
The internet is not only a fact finding resource, but for some people it is a way to find friends, potential partners and support through the tough times in life. Anything that can do that can only be a good thing in my mind.
What do you think? Is the internet good or bad? Have you ever Googled yourself and been surprised at the results? Let me know in the comments :)