Online Privacy & Tech Etiquette

Brush up on your tech communication skills and stay up to date on privacy so you can make the most of your smartphone, the Internet and social media.

The CRAAP Test

The CRAAP Test is used to evaluate the quality and relevance of information sources. Keep the following questions in mind when deciding whether or not to include a source in your research:

Currency Relevance Authority Accuracy Purpose / Point of View

The timeliness of the information

  • Is there a clear date posted to indicate when the information was published/posted?
  • Is there a note or date to indicate if the information has been updated?
  • Is the information current enough? Is it OK if the resource is more than 5 years old?

The value of the information in relation to your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level - not too simple, not too advanced, etc.?
  • How does it compare with other trusted sources on the topic?

The source of the information

  • Who is the author and/or producer of the information?
  • Are the credentials and/or affiliations of the author appropriate?
  • Does the author provide contact information?
  • Does the URL (web address) reveal anything about the source? 

The reliability of the content

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been peer reviewed?
  • Is the tone unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

The reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information - inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the point of view objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases? 

What a Link Says About a Source

Anatomy of a URL

A domain is a name that defines a "realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control" online (Wikipedia, 2015). nice.org.uk is a domain. We trust content from nice.org.uk because it is the official site of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. An extension is included at the end to further define the purpose and/or geography of the site. nice.org.uk is an organization (.org) based in the United Kingdom (.uk). 

A path follows the domain and describes where you are going on a website. /guidance/conditions-and-diseases suggests you will view guidance on a variety of conditions and diseases if you follow the exact URL or web address:

https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/conditions-and-diseases

Common Domain Extensions

.com commercial
.org  organization
.int international organization
.edu education
.gov government
.ca Canada
.uk United Kingdom

Sharing Case Studies

Health Advice & Information

You’ve been having sciatic nerve pain in your back. Your mom decides to help and shares some sciatic nerve exercises with you on Facebook.  The exercises look complicated and there are ads all over the webpage. You looked at the Facebook comments, and an apparent physiotherapist warns the exercises are not appropriate. Is this person a real physiotherapist? What should you do?

If you can, ask your health care provider if the interventions you are using are appropriate. In regards to online exercise videos, local physiotherapists offer these tips:

  1. Beware of exercise programs that claim to be good for everyone with a specific condition. Not all patients are able to do certain exercises. Modifications may need to be made depending on an individual's ability.
  2. Beware of links that promise/guarantee that they will help you make your pain go away. Typically a lot of these sites try to offer an oversimplified approach and prey on the vulnerability of individuals.
(L. Boudreau & J. Palmer, personal communication, September, 2015)

Inspirational Memes

You love inspirational quotes. You share them with your friends on Facebook and Instagram, and they share with you. A friend recently shared an image quote that was hard not to agree with, "It costs 0$ to have a positive attitude", and was signed in the lower right corner by a guy named David Pear Dog. You click on the meme and it brings you to David Pear Dog's Facebook page. He sure seems to know a lot about superfoods!

Find out where or who the information you are sharing is coming from. Who is David Pear Dog? Does he have a Wikipedia page? What are the top Google results when you search for him? You just might find he has no reputable presence online, or you may find that his intentions and knowledge are challenged by reputable sources.

Many sources of memes, tip videos or quizzes are collecting any personal information they can or using your visits to their sites to profit from advertising. Be mindful when you share things that seem harmless, as their creator may have another intention if you dig a bit deeper.

Oversharing: Think Before You Post