On Wednesday Pope Francis released his message for World Communications Day and called for a “journalism for peace” while denouncing fake news and comparing it to the snake in the Garden of Eden who deceived Eve.
“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. 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.”
The theme of the Pope’s message is “The truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). Fake news and journalism for peace” was issued in advance of the Catholic Church’s World Day of Social Communications on May 13.
Pope Francis blamed greed for the rapidity with which fake news spreads.
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.
The Pope also called on journalists as “protectors of news” to not be so focused on rushing to report news before thoroughly checking the facts.
Amid feeding frenzies and the mad rush for a scoop, they must remember that the heart of information is not the speed with which it is reported or its audience impact, but persons. Informing others means forming others; it means being in touch with people’s lives. That is why ensuring the accuracy of sources and protecting communication are real means of promoting goodness, generating trust, and opening the way to communion and peace.
This isn’t the first time the Pope has complained about the media having previously cited one-sided reporting and what he dubbed the “sins of the media: disinformation, slander and defamation”.