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Abstract

A refined approach to digital inequality requires that in addition to looking at differences in access statistics we also must examine differences among Internet users. People encounter numerous hurdles during their online information-seeking behavior. In this paper, I focus on the likelihood that Internet users will make spelling or typographical mistakes during their online activities. Information seeking on the Web often requires users to type text into forms. Users sometimes make mistakes, which can hinder their browsing efficiency because they may get detoured to irrelevant sources or encounter errors. I draw on data collected from in-person observations with a diverse sample of 100 Internet users to see what explains their tendency to make spelling and typographical mistakes and the frequency with which they make such errors. I find that education level is a significant predictor of one's likelihood to make mistakes, suggesting that existing social inequalities translate into differences in online behavior.

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