Social websites are not without their disadvantages:
Disadvantage 1: Decline in authority of material
The nature of Wikipedia, “the encyclopedia anyone can edit” makes it prone to tampering and bias. Baseless statements can be made in any article. Said statements can go unnoticed for months, and once noticed, be kept in the article with a “citation needed” marking at the end. An example of this was with one government official who told his story to USA Today. His Wikipedia article listed him as a possible collaborator in the Kennedy assassination for multiple months.
In fact, even if an article is entirely true, it can be edited to be biased. For example, one computer coder developed a piece of software known as “WikiScanner”. He found that edits were coming in from companies such as Pepsi and Sea World, that made articles about them biased in their favor. For example, Pepsi removed part of an article that involved health risks with their product. And Sea World changed every mention of “Orca” to “Killer Whale” in their article, insisting it was more accurate. These are two examples of how Web 2.0 content can be misleading, or fake. In short, even if Wikipedia is accurate in most cases, it’s free-to-edit nature means that there is slightly more doubt about the content. In some situations, this increased skepticism is prohibitive.
Disadvantage 2: Unnecessary coverage of certain aspects
An interesting fact that has been pointed out many times is the strange sizes of some Wikipedia articles in comparison to others. For example, the Wikipedia article on Lightsaber Combat is longer than that on modern warfare (as of March 2008). Wikipedia seems to have an inability to prioritize articles based on their importance. Relatively unimportant articles are enormous, while important matters are covered less thoroughly. For sites like YouTube or Flickr, many people would find the vast majority of videos or photos uploaded uninteresting. Unless an interactive sites is well-organized and searchable, there can be an overload of irrelevant or misleading information obscuring the truly valuable content.
Disadvantage 3: Copyright infringement
YouTube is rife with videos put up against copyright laws. This is a problem because of the lack of content filters. Videos will be put up regardless of copyright, in many cases, and it is a constant battle for site moderators to remove them. Also, searching for a video on YouTube will often reveal the same video, posted multiple times. Art and information can, on the internet, be claimed by anyone essentially. This leads to many problems, in which art or ideas are claimed by those who did not originally conceive them. For more on how YouTube and Digg have worked to counteract this worrying trend, see our case studies page.