Is .Gov Reputable?
During information-literacy instruction, librarians generally count on the .gov domain suffix to lead to reputable information.
For example, this site on evaluating internet information plainly states:
Government. If you come across a site with this domain, then you're viewing a federal government site. All branches of the United States federal government use this domain. Information such as Census statistics, Congressional hearings, and Supreme Court rulings would be included in sites with this domain. The information is considered to be from a credible source.
And another site also states:
You can trust sites with “.gov” addresses. You can also trust sites with “.edu” addresses if they’re produced by the educational institution. Personal pages of individuals at an educational institution may not be trustworthy, even though they have “.edu” addresses. The presence of “.org” in an address doesn’t guarantee that a site is reputable; there have been instances where phony “.org” sites were set up to mislead consumers. Also, some legitimate “.org” sites belong to organizations that promote a specific agenda; their content may be biased.
I'd wager that nearly any source on evaluating internet information has a similar statement.
During the last few weeks, however, I've started to ask myself if this is still true. Do we find ourselves in a time when even .gov information should be evaluated for bias or in furtherance of a particular agenda?
Or maybe this was always the case.
Either way, the popular rhetoric points to being hyper-vigilant about the information that we rely on and share with the world. No longer should we rely on certain domains to provide reputable information. We should all use our evaluation skills to vet any and all information.