Anyone who read the previous post in this subcategory understands that I’m a big fan of a rather open market – including the online variety. Limiting a business’ means of making money stifles development and innovation. And in most cases, the advent of new regulations on revenue-generating arms simply drains tax dollars with no real benefits. The cost of violating some regulations is nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

 

With that being said, search engines are beginning to run into some troubles with their current business model – selling sponsored links on key word searches to the highest bidder. Misleading and some times flat out fraudulent services are snapping up sponsored link status and passing themselves off as legitimate. This disturbing trend is particularly troublesome in the technology sector, where so few (myself included) have a solid understanding as to what we are agreeing to as we download and install material from the Web.

 

Watch this video of a 12-yeard-old English lad discloses some of the dangers of pointing and clicking without CAREFULLY examining what is being presented. The screen is a bit out of focus and he gets a little flustered here and there, but his points are valid and he shows more Web savvy than a hefty number of far more mature Web surfers.

 

 

So how can we continue to utilize search engines, but do so safely?

 

Step #1 – Look before you leap

Check the url of a site to see its origin. If it doesn’t match the product on offer in some way or appears to originate from a country know for lax laws on spammers, skip it.

 

Step #2 – Think before you type

Ask yourself what you are really seeking. Formulate that concept into a short (three or four words) phrase. If you are looking for the most effective spyware removal tool, don’t search for the generic term “spyware.” Try “spyware reviews.”

 

Step #3 – Use what is given

There are plenty of resources available to the discriminating consumer. Seek them out and use them for all they are worth. Here’s one for searches …

http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/5locate/adviceengine.html

 

More tips can be found at …

http://www.searchenginewatch.com/facts/

 

Final bark

Regulation isn’t the answer to safer and more relevant Web searching, an educated consumer is.  

 

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