There is a belief that we live in a post-truth era, a world of misinformation and
disinformation. But, this may not be true. In the 19th century, newspapers adopted yellow
journalism which was a catalyst for falsehood. Yellow journalism created news based on
exaggeration, sensationalism, and even fabricated information. It is not that we live in a post-
truth world more so that misinformation and disinformation have shifted from newspapers to the
web.

Social media algorithms and improper fact-checking have caused falsehood to spread
quicker. However, the biggest problem is the lack of media literacy. Forty-eight percent of
Canadian adults have literacy skills that fall below the high school level, suggesting they struggle
with understanding and engaging with written text. According to a Reuters report, fifty-three
percent of Canadians have reported using social media platforms to get news. When Canadians
who have these poor literacy skills use social media to receive news, it causes people to not think
critically before sharing content online. Experts are worried and have called for the school
boards in Canada to teach kids media literacy to cease the spread of misinformation.

Psychology studies have proven that teaching media literacy could help with the fake
news and misinformation crisis we see on social media. Fighting COVID-19 Misinformation on
Social Media was a psychology study done during the pandemic with 1,700 American
participants. In the experiment, participants were asked if they would share COVID-19-specific
content that consisted of accurate and inaccurate information. In the first group, researchers
found that participants fared worse in distinguishing truth and falsehood resulting in most
individuals sharing false content. However, in the second group, researchers found that just
nudging the participants to think about accuracy when looking at the headline or even the
account posting the content, a massive difference in participants dismantling misinformation
occured. It made participants think more critically and face their own biases, showing that media
literacy can help determine the difference between inaccurate and truthful content.

We will continue living through the post-truth era because there has never been a time where
information has been fully presented in black and white. However, media literacy might be that
magic bullet to stop this crisis.

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