The Pope called upon to counter the spread of «fake news»

© 2018 AFP / Vincenzo Pinto Pope Francis. Archival photoThe Pope called upon to counter the spread of «fake news»© 2018 AFP / Vincenzo Pinto

Pope Francis has called to counter the spread of false news, the so-called «fake news» through modern means of mass communication, indicating that their impacts on people can have very dramatic consequences.

«Drama of disinformation is to discredit the other, view it as the enemy, up to demonization, which may stir up conflicts,» — said in a papal message on the occasion of the 52nd Catholic world day of social communications, which was published Wednesday in the Vatican.

Francis stressed that it is often unfounded information deliberately aimed at deception and manipulation by the reader.

«Its spread can pursue the desired objectives, to influence political choices and to facilitate economic benefits. The effectiveness of fake news, first and foremost, tied to their camouflage nature, that is, with the ability to look acceptable. Second, these about, but most likely the news are cunning in the sense that they skillfully attract attention, relying on stereotypes and prejudices common in society, using simple emotions, able to immediately initiate the alarm, contempt, rage and frustration,» said the Pope.

Speaking about the nature of false information, Francis pointed out that the author of the first «fake news,» was described in the Book of Genesis the serpent, and its result was the tragic fall of man. In this regard, the head of the Roman Catholic Church emphasized the need to actively counter the spread of false information through modern means of mass communication. «None of us can shirk its responsibility to confront this lie,» he said.

The Pontiff welcomed as initiatives in the field of upbringing and education that helps people to distinguish false information from true, and the public and legal solutions in order to confront this phenomenon.

However, a special responsibility in this matter, according to Pope Francis lies on the journalists who are now performing not just their professional duties, but the real mission. «Their task — in the frantic whirlwind of news to remember that news is not the rate at which it is transferred, or the value of the audience, but people. To inform means to form, it means to deal with the life of the people,» he said.

In his message, Pope Francis quoted not only the Bible, but the novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky «the Brothers Karamazov», and the epigraph to this paper he chose the words from John’s gospel: «the Truth shall make you free.»