Once Upon A Bookshelf

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Web of Deceit: Misinformation and Manipulation in the Age of Social Media

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 8:06 am October 25, 2012.
Category: Non-Fiction
Book Author(s):
Publisher(s): ,
Editor: Anne P. Mintz
Contributing Authors: Amber Benham, Eli Edwards, Ben Fratenberg, Laura Gordon-Murnane, Cynthia Hetherington, Deborah A. Liptak, Meg Smith, Craig Thompson
Originally Published: 2012
Publisher: CyberAge Books, an imprint of Information Today Inc.
Source: LibraryThing EarlyReviewers Program

The Story

From the back of the book:

The dark side of social media and the web

For all its amazing benefits, the worldwide social media phenomenon has provided manipulative people and organizations with the tools – and human targets – that allow hoaxes and con games to be perpetrated on a vast scale. A decade after the publication of Web of Deception, Anne P. Mintz returns with a new team of researchers, journalists, and subject experts to explain how misinformation is intentionally spread and to illuminate specific dangers.

Web of Deceit is essential reading for any internet user who wants to avoid being victimized by liars, thieves, and propagandists in the age of ubiquitous social media.

The Response

I wasn’t expecting what I got with Web of Deceit. I actually had a very hard time with this book – not because the material being covered wasn’t interesting, but because it was presented in a way that didn’t make the material appeal to me.

The biggest thing that didn’t work for me was how American-centred this book is. It is definitely geared towards an American audience, and I hadn’t been expecting that at all, especially because it’s a topic that doesn’t just affect Americans – the social web is a global thing. It’s one thing that the majority of the examples that this book illustrates are directly impacting the American people (such as pretty much a whole essay on the current American election)… but it’s another thing when the majority of resources that are provided are specifically for Americans: federal government resources, information about American laws, places to retrieve credit reports, etc. It’s unfortunate, but this makes this particular book only good for everyone in theory and not helpful on the practical front for people who are not American.

The other thing that really didn’t work for me in regards to this book, personally, was that I found the information to be very basic. This would make the book really great for someone who is just being introduced to social media and the social web… but for someone who has an intermediate or advanced knowledge of it, then it’s information that has been rehashed again and again.

There are some things that can be taken away from this book – the appendix that goes into evaluating websites, is definitely useful. This appendix explains what sort of stuff you’re looking for to see whether a website is legit before you fully believe the information they promote, or before you submit your credit card (or any sensitive) information. This book also helps remind readers that if you click a link in an email or on a webpage that you believe is taking you to facebook (or another social networking site) but when you look up into the address bar and it’s not the address that you’re expecting, then you probably shouldn’t trust that site.

The Bottom Line

Overall… didn’t really enjoy it. Felt it didn’t really apply to me. But I can see how it could be useful to American readers who aren’t already well-versed in social media.