Pope Francis is wading into the debate over fake news, issuing a lengthy discourse Wednesday on the matter as part of his World Communications Day message.
In his remarks he decried the growing phenomena of false information and likened it to the serpent who deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden.
“Yet preventing and identifying the way disinformation works also calls for a profound and careful process of discernment. We need to unmask what could be called the ‘snake tactics’ used by those who disguise themselves in order to strike at any time and place,” said the pope.
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“This was the strategy employed by the ‘crafty serpent’ in the Book of Genesis, who, at the dawn of humanity, created the first fake news,” he added.
The Pope offered a detailed explanation of how he defined “fake news” and — for an octogenarian — gave a rather insightful analysis of how it spreads.
There is no such thing as harmless disinformation; trusting in falsehood can have dire consequences.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) January 24, 2018
“Fake news often goes viral, spreading so fast that it is hard to stop, not because of the sense of sharing that inspires the social media, but because it appeals to the insatiable greed so easily aroused in human beings,” said Francis.
Though the term is a favorite of President Trump’s, who uses it as a cudgel against negative press coverage, it’s unlikely that Francis and Trump would see eye-to-eye on it — or much else.
During the 2016 campaign, Francis took the extraordinary step of criticizing Trump’s proposal for a border wall and immigration policies. Trump then took perhaps the even more extraordinary step of firing back at Francis
“If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president because this would not have happened,” he said during a campaign rally in South Carolina in 2016.
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