Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Feb 2010 12:29 UTC
Editorial Recently, a story about people mistaking a news story for the Facebook login page has received considerable media attention. It's currently being seen by many as justification for the recent trend in locking people out of their computers for their own protection - but anyone with even basic mathematical skills and a calculator should come to the conclusion that this story has been blown way out of proportion.
Thread beginning with comment 409788
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
The Internet is different than The Desktop
by qortra on Wed 17th Feb 2010 14:51 UTC
qortra
Member since:
2005-10-05

I agree with several of your points, and your by the numbers analysis is definitely poignant. However, you are incorrectly conflating The Internet with The Desktop. They are separate, and should be treated as such.

On The Desktop, it is possible to provide shallow learning curves while still offering users advanced functionality, even while not allowing users to unknowingly do harmful things.

However, The Internet is a different beast. By its nature, it is dangerous, and to novices, it frankly can be confusing. Sometimes users get tripped up because of random oddities (such as this situation), and sometimes they are purposefully deceived by malevolent people (can you imagine if "readwriteweb.com" was a rogue site farming for Facebook IDs?).

Somebody else here suggested an IQ test to use the internet - of course, this is impractical and nobody here really wants that (big brother and all that). By comparison, there are many dangers in the real world, and it isn't always the government's job to protect us from those (though it often tries and fails): crossing the street without looking, talking to strangers as a child, responding to phone or snail-mail scammers, etc. It is perhaps the duty of parents or friends to educate people around them of these dangers and how to use The Internet properly, safely, and respectfully.

Reply Score: 2

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

However, The Internet is a different beast. By its nature, it is dangerous, and to novices, it frankly can be confusing. Sometimes users get tripped up because of random oddities (such as this situation), and sometimes they are purposefully deceived by malevolent people (can you imagine if "readwriteweb.com" was a rogue site farming for Facebook IDs?).


It's the computer's job to mitigate as much of the dangers as possible.

Note the "as much [...] possible". There's only so much you can do. Cars are packed with safety features these days, but that still won't prevent an idiot to drink and drive. Yes, the internet can be dangerous, but so can is the real world. It will take time, but eventually people will come to be cautious on the internet, much in the same way they are cautious in some neighbourhoods at certain times of the day.

Reply Parent Score: 1

qortra Member since:
2005-10-05

I wholeheartedly agree that the OS and browser should mitigate the dangers of The Internet to a certain extent, and I am a huge proponent of a strong sandbox of the Internet experience. It should be very hard for things on The Internet to escape the browser and reside on The Desktop. However, there are a few caveats.

Firstly, while the OS/Browser should provide some security, it most certainly should not ever provide users with a *false* sense of security. IMHO, people shouldn't get too comfortable, and should always be vigilant of the dangers that simply can't be stopped by even the best online security features.

Secondly, there are some "dangers" that we really don't want to stop, especially when the danger is actually expected behavior. This readwriteweb.com situation is frankly the perfect anecdote. Every component of the these peoples' systems was performing just as expected and desired, and they were offered every opportunity to find the right site.

- Their systems all have address bars (call me a prude, but I think that's the best way to get to a site that you've visited hundreds of times before).
- Their systems all have bookmark systems, which they probably should have used if they don't like using the address bar.
- Most of their browsers probably supplied histories that they could have leveraged to get back to Facebook in the event that they don't like the other two options.
- The correct Facebook login page was provided for them in the search - they just choose to click on something else because they didn't read what was on the screen (this, IMHO, was the most critical failure in the process).
- Their address bars, in addition to being the perfect input method for the situation, are also the key method of ascertaining *where you are on The Internet*. If they had even glanced at it, they would have known immediately that they were in the wrong place. Heck, IE8 and Chrome even highlight the domain for you to it's easy to see.

Edited 2010-02-17 15:30 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3