A recent blog post in newyorker.com decries the many little "lies" of the Internet. From search to buying online, consumers can easily be misled when blindly following an Internet trail. Some of these foibles have been covered in previous issues of our blog, but all are good to review.

For example, many people click through to search links that they believe to be legitimate, only to learn that they have been duped into visiting a sales site. These links may be advertised as sponsored links, but in some search engines what may be considered organic search results could be influenced by promotional fees. In other words, clicker beware.

Another example of dubious Internet marketing is the practice of paying for reviews. People tend to buy online after they have confirmation from third parties that this site or seller has a good reputation and will deliver what they say they are offering. However, what happens when a company pays reviewers and you are misled? This appears to be a growing problem as sellers who have tried to earn their good reviews see market share moving to those who exploit this type of behavior strive to keep up by paying for reviews themselves.

Another misconception is the idea that when you “buy” licensed content on the web, such as a movie or song, that you own it, just as you would a book or DVD. However, if you try to sell this content when you are done with it, you will often find that it is not in fact transferable. It pays to read the licensing agreement before you click through to purchase.

From the first day someone exchanged an item of value to another person, there has been an element of caveat emptor to a transaction. As online commerce grows, this concept remains as important as ever.