Monday, January 28, 2013

They Can’t Put Anything On The Internet That Isn’t True

Where did you hear that?  The Internet...

Last week I called into question a claim by Global Security Experts that "3,600,000 home invasions occurred each year between 1994 and 2000."  To his credit, I received a response from Jordan Frankel, EVP at GSE, whose post at the LinkedIn ASIS International group linked to the questionable factoid.  His note read in part:

"We have removed the inaccurate stat as promised. I am curious to know if you will be contacting the dozens of other companies listing the same home invasion stats.”

Intrigued, I Googled “3,600,000 home invasions” to see if anyone else was using this severely unlikely number and - as the French model in the State Farm commercial says, "Bonjour!" - it turns out there are a mess of folks using this internet fact, either to reinforce their worldview or to drive business to their sites and cash into their wallets.  In the first three pages of hits there are 28 entries parroting this made up statistic, and only two calling it into question.  Yup, that’s dozens alright.  Whoudathunkit?

One has to go all the way to the bottom of the first page to find a voice of reason.  In June of 2011 Home Invasion News (?!!) did the legwork to run down the history of this egregious misinformation.

“This infographic was put into circulation by Interactive Holdings, LLC, a company headquartered in North Carolina that functions as a multifaceted holding company for various Internet, information technology, creative design, and marketing solutions. In other words, a marketing operation whose assignment — in this case — appears to have been driving traffic to local ‘bump resistant certified locksmiths.’”

“Since the infographic was created, things have changed a bit at the original website, The graphic itself has been taken down, but some of the same misleading statistics still appear. In addition, a notice now appears on the ‘home invasion’ portion of the bumpkeywarning site: Interactive Holdings, LLC, owners of make no representation or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in this web site or web sites that are or may be linked to the web site now or in the future. Access to and use of all information is at the user’s risk. Looks like the little infographic caused some issues.”

It’s been said that “A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  That’s certainly true in this case.  Whew!

PS Jordan, there are not dozens of firms using this number, there are 16,700!  

Image credit: State Farm Insurance Company