Helping people find information they can trust

Imagine you read someone’s blog about job trends. Thinking your friends might find it as interesting as you did, you post it on Facebook. A few days later, you find out that the blog used outdated statistics. Would you be willing to retract your original post saying that it was inaccurate?

Soo Young Rieh

Soo Young Rieh is an associate professor in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. She has conducted research projects about credibility assessment with funding from the MacArthur Foundation.

You read someone’s comments about Ann Arbor in an online newspaper site, and you know that what the person said is wrong. Do you enter a comment that says why it is wrong or do you ignore it and let other people get the wrong impression about Ann Arbor?

You want to book a hotel for a family vacation. Every hotel website you examine is positive about the hotel and posts nice pictures. Can you trust what you read and see? Tripadvisor.com gives an average 3.5 rating to these hotels and counters with negative opinions. Which information do you trust more?

Every day, we interact with a great amount of information from various sources such as search engines, general websites, online news sites, and social networking sites. As more and more people contribute content online, people increasingly find themselves in situations where they must decide whether they trust the information they read online.

This is the general problem that the members of Information Behavior and Interaction (IBI) Research Group at UMSI have addressed over the past decade. We have studied a host of research questions such as how people make judgments about information credibility and how their credibility judgments influence the ways they seek, use, create, and share information. We have also studied what can be done to help people find information they can trust. The findings from our recent investigations using online information activity diaries, interviews, and lab-based studies can be summarized as follows: Continue reading