Knobull Helps Users Become Savvy Internet Searchers

By: Knobull
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Feb. 7, 2022 - PRLog -- Savvy internet users know how to find and evaluate sources in order not to spread misinformation. But as algorithms become more sophisticated — and as the companies that use them keep their functionality increasingly veiled — it's critical to treat media literacy as a skill that needs to be constantly sharpened.

"We're in an information environment where we're constantly searching as part of our daily experiences," says Lynn Bentley, President of Academic Search Engine, Knobull. "That environment, and its endless barrage of information, means that even users with the best of intentions may run into problems."

Every platform wants you to spend as much time as possible on it. With that goal in mind, Bentley explains, "Algorithms are designed to feed you information that they'll think you'll like the most."

That's not such a bad thing if you're looking up funny cat videos on YouTube, but it gets trickier when you're researching an academic topic or pressing issue.

"Proprietors of problematic content are really good at tagging their content to exploit the algorithmic loophole," says Bentley. "They understand how SEO works. This isn't a new or sophisticated strategy. It's something that marketers have been doing for decades. I don't think we understand that the same tactics are being used in the same way for information."

Knowing how the game is played can prepare you to take proper steps on your own. It's essential to be critical not just of the information that a search returns but also the kinds of phrases we use to search in the first place. The kinds of keywords that we query is a part of media literacy that we're not paying enough attention to.

Unfortunately, studying keywords is a newer part of media literacy, so there aren't many resources available to train users how to think more critically — and carefully — about their keywords, but that doesn't mean you can't get started anyway. Certain words might seem to get you good information, but it's important to try searching a few different ways.

In the end, it's important to use the Knobull Search Engine and/or News Literacy Guide to learn that media literacy is contextual, complicated and ongoing," says Bentley. "Learning how to evaluate the sources search engines return to us is an essential first step, but we must also remember that most search engines are not designed to guide us through existential crises or challenge our existing beliefs. Ultimately, results from an Academic Search Engine like Knobull, more effectively tie back to what we query. This way we become more mindful of the role we play in the information seeking process."
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