Illustration by Nan Jiang

Cute infographics, wrong information

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Over the last few months, civil rights issues in America brought many teenagers to political activism. However, during quarantine, it is difficult to attend an actual protest. A convenient alternative is reposting infographics or articles online. These posts are supposed to be created by people with credibility, but a good percentage are one-sided, misinformed propaganda aimed toward teenagers to promote a political agenda.

These infographics often spread information by presenting one side of the story. The most exemplary of these posts is one that condemns the new Mulan movie for supporting the mass imprisonment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. Although these mass imprisonments are obviously immoral, this post, along with many like it, all fail to mention the terrorist attacks in the region. The East Turkestan Independence Movement, an ISIS-backed Uyghur separtist movement, is actively attacking Ürümqi, Beijing, and other major cities around China in an effort to create an Islamic state in Xinjiang. These attacks are rarely covered in Western media, and posts like these can easily hide these incidents from Westerners, who are their targeted audience. Only being exposed to one-sided political media often leads to a flawed political opinion, and creates an ignorant and misinformed youth.

In today’s social media environment, these posts are set up to spread like wildfire. The information is shown in colorful, easily digestible bits, and most teenagers do not give a second thought to like and repost it for more people to see. Most teens have hundreds of followers on social media, influencing others who will inevitably see the things their friends are reposting. This creates a chain of misinformation and ignorance. Reading an infographic takes a lot less time than doing actual research on a subject, giving teens less incentive to fully learn about a subject.

Although these posts do highlight the most problematic areas of an event to raise awareness, a lot of the time, the bigger picture is more essential to an event. It is easy for somebody to portray the killing of Osama bin-Laden as “The US military kills Middle Eastern men,” but with more context, most  people would say that this was a necessary event. Only portraying  one side of a story is dangerous for the future generations because these posts are handicapping teens’ ability to develop their own political opinions. It is impossible to have a democracy if people are made to see through someone else’s lenses.

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