A new papal document declared the proliferation of so-called “fake news” as the work of the devil and urges journalists around the world to act as “protectors of news” and stop the spread of inaccurate information.
The message is part of the Pope’s World Communications Day and said the recent phenomenon of “fake news” as a “sign of intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes and leads only to the spread of arrogance and hatred.”
Some of those at the Vatican, according to CNN, believe Pope Francis was “probably sending a message to Donald Trump and other world leaders who have been using the phrase “fake news,” — an odd scoop considering the pope used the term himself repeatedly throughout the document.
The pope also compared “fake news” to the “crafty serpent” in the Book of Genesis, where Eve is tempted and lied to by a serpent to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In the age of the internet, Francis warned, “disinformation” can be more easily spread.
“Spreading fake news can serve to advance specific goals, influence political decisions and serve economic interests,” the pope wrote.
Francis also applauded regulation efforts to stop “fake news” and the efforts of tech companies to verify the “personal identities concealed behind millions of digital profiles,” which would arguably end anonymity on social media sites like Twitter.
Similar to President Barack Obama’s comments during a BBC interview with Prince Harry in December of last year, the pope criticized individuals for only seeking news outlets that confirm their biases.
“Disinformation thus thrives on the absence of healthy confrontation with other sources of information that could effectively challenge prejudices and generate constructive dialogue; instead, it risks turning people into unwilling accomplices in spreading biased and baseless ideas,” the pope said.
While this document is the most targeted attack on fake news, it was not the first time Francis spoke out against the media. In December 2016, Francis compared the press and public’s interest in salacious story to sexual fetishes like coprophilia and coprophagy, which both involve the use of feces.
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