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Why media literacy is just the first step to extinguishing toxic misinformation

On January 20, President Joe Biden stood at the steps of the U.S. Capitol and addressed America by stating, “We must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.” The events that had unfurled just days earlier, during the January 6 attack on those very same steps, reveal what is at stake when we do not.

But when rumors, lies, and misinformation are allowed to proliferate in our democracy, simply by being shared online or on air, I’m afraid it’s not hard to understand how we arrived here.

Where we are now is an increasingly digital world that makes it harder than ever to distinguish verified facts and objective journalism from opinion, propaganda, and even total fiction. Or, as recently termed by the Edelman Trust Barometer’s latest survey on public trust, we’re currently in an “environment of information bankruptcy.”

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