Web of mistrust

Web of mistrust

You may have heard of the Web of Trust plugin for browsers. This product is marketed as a "Safe Browsing Tool", and supposedly improves the security of the web by allowing users to view the rating of a site before even clicking on it (as it places an icon next to all links), as well as other measures such as an icon next to the address bar, and a popup warning you if you try to visit a site that does not have a good rating.

The problem is, this software is completely untrustworthy. The developers do not seem to understand what security means, which is risk evaluation and assessment by a guided, neutral body so that there is no bias and little personal gain. This product instead relies on a community of people that must rate websites to increase their rank, and they are allowed to do so entirely based upon their own opinions, meaning that instead of being a security tool, you end up with shills and trolls pulling down the ranking of a website just so they can increase their personal ranking and discourage lifestyles and views (political or otherwise) that they do not agree with.

While a product like this is a good idea and could be useful on many levels, the implementation itself is not very good, with very little oversight and no obvious protection against abuse. The only measure to stop abuse is to require commenters to sign up to post, something that most people (and bots) who are giving websites bogus ratings will not bother themselves with.

The product currently has 380 one-star reviews, more than half of its total five-star reviews, which usually just say something simple like "its a good product" with no real information provided by the reviewer. Furthermore, many negative reviews of the product go into detail about how it is potentially dangerous and misleading because of the opinion-based nature of it that can leave people expecting actual protection (e.g for kids from unsafe web content) completely exposed.

Web of Trust is a game of roulette, with the results for a given website being completely unpredictable. Many sites that have been confirmed by hundreds of people as safe are colored red (worst rating), while sites containing hardcore pornography or other damaging or triggering content may be colored green (best rating).

If you use this product, I recommend uninstalling it, and if not convinced yet then read the plethora of negative, yet insightful reviews for yourself.

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