How to spot a web fake

Let’s face facts: there is plenty of complete and utter nonsense published on the web. There are websites which purport to tell you one thing, but are actually trying to delude you and gain access to information about you which can be sold on. Or there are “phishing” sites which make you think they are genuine, but they are fake. Knowing what is genuine online is sometimes tough. So just how do you decide whether or not a website is the genuine article, or whether it is a dud?

One thing we know about human “gut instinct” is that it is invariably correct. So, if you think a web page is not quite right, then the chances are it isn’t. But sometimes you think that a site may look dubious, but you put that down to poor design, or inexperience on the part of the company. Or you think there are cultural differences in approach – for instance in the UK users often “forgive” American websites which are often more forward and brash than the sensitive British soul prefers.

Emotional Intelligence

However, interesting new research suggests that the people with some of the best “gut instincts” may actually be the worse at spotting web fakes. The study found that people with high “emotional intelligence” were less effective at distinguishing between real and fake presentations. Admittedly, the study did not look at websites, but at video recordings, however it does expose one factor. And that is that people with high emotional intelligence get so close to the content they are experiencing they find it harder to be analytical about it. In other words, as people became more attached to the video, they became less able to make decisions about it.

This has important implications online. If you get “sucked in” to the narrative of a web page, there’s a chance you could become too emotionally attached and therefore less able to make effective judgements about the content. You can see this all the time on those “get rich quick” websites, which draw you in to their story about being on hard times and now owning a yacht and only having to work one hour a day. The people with high emotional intelligence are more likely to “buy in” to these emotional hooks and as a result are less able to see that it might be some kind of scam.

So, what can you do to help you avoid being duped by websites? The first thing is to be aware of your own level of emotional intelligence. If you find yourself being able to see things really easily from the perspective of others, then you are emotionally intelligent. If you do have high emotional intelligence, then you should take extra care online – have a breather before you press that “buy” button…!

Whatever your level of emotional intelligence, though, gut instinct is a useful method of checking our a website. So too are things like seeing if the site displays a real, physical address – indicating they “exist”. Equally, hover over a link and look in the bottom left hand corner of your window – where does the link actually point to? If the site is honest it will be a link you expect. Similarly, do they have links to their Twitter or Facebook pages? If so, check them out and see what people are saying about them.

In other words, take your time – don’t rush to make those clicks; a few moments longer while you think will have no real impact on your day.

How to spot a web fake 1

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