One Way “Fake News” Comes to Be

This is a very small example of how information on the Internet gets skewed. I’m posting it because I just had one of those crazy phone calls during which a young whipper-snapper corrected me about their employers’ hours of business.

I want to be clear, in case their employer reads this, that this is not about the person. They were very nice. It was about me saying “those aren’t the hours that are posted” and them saying “yes they are, I’m looking at them right now.”

We were both right.

I looked at the results of the Google Search and got one set of hours. I clicked on one of the results and got a different set. Then, I went directly to their website and got a 3rd set. (There was actually a 4th set, but that was for their Service Department, so it doesn’t count.)

What happened?

I want to point out here that none of this is the company’s fault – there are too many ways data gets distributed on the Internet for a small or medium sized business to keep on top of all of them.

So, how does it happen?

Pages get cached (stored away) on the internet as a way of speeding up response time in the browsers. Sometimes they get stored locally on our own machines. Pass-through sites store information and don’t update it. There are other ways data gets “frozen”, but it all leads to the same problem: I have my answer (“You close at 5:30 on Wednesdays. I’m looking at your website.”) and you have yours (“No, sir, we close at 8:30. I’m looking at our website.”) and we’re both right. We have the data to prove it.

Keep that in mind when you’re quoting numbers and percentages and, really, just about anything else you find on the Internet.

Snapshots below:

Google Search Results sidebar:

Google Search 1

from: http://www.crippenmazda.com/dealership/about.htm

Dealer Website

Results from Google Search on my cell phone:

IMG_4607

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