The Truth About Eight Internet Myths, Part II

In Part I of this article, we looked at the truth behind four popular Internet myths. Ready for more?

Internet myths aren’t hard to find. Even 20 years in, the Internet’s still something like the Old West once was — a rip-roaring frontier, spinning off myths right and left. Some of them were true, once; some never were. As the Internet settles down into young adulthood, some myths have become enshrined as near-fact.

As always, our duty at Mythbusters is to dispel those myths so that you can see the truth in the bright light of day. We’ve already stripped away the confusion surrounding four such myths; in Part II of this article, we’ll examine four more.

Myth 5: It’s easy to get rich on the Internet!

This Internet myth comes true only if you apply good business principles to the enterprise. As the purveyors of the various “free” business plans have discovered — and the dot-com bubble back in the early naughts proved — nothing beats common sense. Just because you’re on the ‘Net doesn’t mean you’ll profit.

This is especially true if your business is completely oriented around an online presence. It’s smarter to make your website a part of your complete business plan, not the entirety of it.

Myth 6: Internet cookies are spyware.

While it’s a good idea not to trust any program that tries to install itself on your computer system, it’s an Internet myth to think that cookies can actually tell anyone what you’re doing. For those who don’t know, an Internet cookie is a text file that’s used to record data, but doesn’t actually do any reporting.

Cookies are most often used to cache website images, passwords, and personal preferences, so it’s easier to jump back to a previously visited site while you’re surfing. This is fine if you’re dealing with “first-party” cookies that just try to make your life easier, but there are “third-party” cookies that are set by advertisers, too.

Third-party cookies are probably what triggered this Internet myth. While they’re passive, they do save data that some sites can use to present you with pop-ups that you may not want to see. Fortunately, they’re easy to block by properly setting your web browser security or privacy options.

Myth 7: An antivirus program came installed on my computer, so I’m safe from viruses.

Good luck with that. Most antivirus programs that come preinstalled on a new system are trial versions that will soon run out, and in any case they don’t do any good unless you update them daily. Even then you can’t be 100% sure they’ll work — during peak virus periods, a program may update several times a day.

Myth 8: The Internet is a fad that will soon pass.

So far Internet growth shows no signs of leveling off, much less stagnating. Barring something catastrophic, it seems to be here to stay, and promises to become even more integral to our lives than it already is. This is probably the one myth among many myths about the Internet we’ll laugh at most when we look back in a few years.