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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at York U chapter.

“Donald Trump Sent His Own Plane to Transport 200 Stranded Marines.”

“Coronavirus Bioweapon – How China Stole Coronavirus from Canada and Weaponized It.”

Climate Change is an Obvious Myth – How Much More Evidence Do You Need?

These are all real headlines from “credible” newspapers that are in no way factual. In some cases, “fake news” can be lighthearted and seemingly harmless. In many cases, however, misinformation can impact how we interact with one another, it can lead to violence, and most dangerously so, it can fuel inaction.

We have all faced misinformation at some point or another. Wikipedia and its editable pages. Rumours about vaccines being used as government tracking devices (as if we are not already tracked in so many other ways and as if vaccination would not help curve a GLOBAL PANDEMIC). Not to forget #JeffBezosIsDead trending on Twitter who knows how many times.

I for one have seen this misinformation era coming for a long time. As as a former social science major and future educator, I have constantly been exposed to the “gray area in between.” I have been encouraged to think critically, with Professors emphasizing that there is more than one “right” answer and that in a democratic society, all perspectives must be valued. With technology continuing to develop at a rapid pace, there are so many ways to add to (or rewrite) the story. Many people have taken advantage of the privilege of having a voice and advanced hateful agendas under the guise of “free speech.”

So what is really at stake here? What happens when harmful, hate-infused ideologies are positioned as “perspective?” When does privileging multiple “truths” with the intention of giving everyone a say in the conversation go too far? If we all have similar understandings of what it means to be a part of a moral and civil society, isn’t there, at least in some cases, a right answer? Who has the power and privilege to set this standard and make this decision?

Bottom line is, some people need to lose editing access to our global Wikipedia page. There isn’t and there never was a place for hate in this world. And after everything we’ve all gone through, the least we deserve is the mental reassurance that our youngest generations are not going to be manipulated by people who have a motive to wreak havoc. The tough part is that the process of filtering out misinformation minions will only make us drown in the merky waters of censorship, watching as the privileged and the powerful get the largest and most comfortable life boats.

The “truth” is beginning to lose its power, so much so that we place it in quotation marks. Now there are “multiple truths,” and the cherry on top is that we are expected to agree with the one that is generalized as affiliated with our identity.

“You can’t be racialized and a Trump supporter! You can’t be left wing and not believe in climate change!”

So what do we do?

In my eyes, the solution is simple. Rather than controling what we are exposed to (a seemingly and actually impossible task), we have to control how we react. This involves building critical literacy, encouraging people to use their own judgment and ask questions like:

“Is what I’m reading actually true?” “What intention did this person have in saying this?”

The second we change the lens through which we absorb information, we can begin to problematize taken-for-granted truths and minimize the violence misinformation has the intention of causing.

And that, ladies, gentlemen and enbies, is the cold hard “truth.” Or is it?

Riya Bhatla has been a part of Her Campus’ York University Chapter since 2020. She is currently serving as Campus Correspondent where she oversees the publishing of articles, facilitates team-building opportunities, and supports the chapter in expanding their reach across campus. Beyond Her Campus, Riya works as a Peer Mentor Team Lead with the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, where she provides social and academic support to incoming first year students. As a teacher candidate, she is also contributing to a research project that is investigating the “lived experiences of the first Master’s degree recipients at a refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya.” In her free time, Riya loves going on walks with her dog Kobe, bingeing Scandal, and going for Friday night Karaoke at a local pub.