While some online advertising will expose you to a product or service that makes your life easier, advertising in the guise of internet news is not only insincere, but it can often lead to misinformation on important issues in its quest to sell you something that you don’t need. This kind of insincere journalism is not just a phenomenon of small, sensationalist outlets, but the some of the largest broadcasters in cyberspace. Sometimes a small “Sponsored” tag, hidden near an article’s headline, is all that can warn you of the piece’s ulterior motives.
Take, for example, a centerpiece from “Smart Web User” that aired on Microsoft Edge’s default home page towards the end of November, right next to breaking news about a plane crash that killed 76 people and the weather. It is a fabrication that insinuates that identity theft is something of a recent phenomenon and particularly concerning to those who own PCs that are over 6 months old, and that the best way to combat this trend, indeed the avenue recommended by “experts,” is to purchase ScanGuard, a piece of security software fighting for a place in a competitive market. Do this or you might as well stop using the internet, as the article’s banner suggests: “1 Shocking Reason Not To Use The Internet Today.” This is a prime example of a narrative skewed to sell bloatware: software that is unnecessary for most and will only slow down the machine that it’s installed on. In reality, identity theft is not a new issue, and the best defense against it is education. We have protocols that use free software to combat the malware that collects the information used to steal your identity. So be weary of such “news.”