Pope Francis himself has weighed in on the never-ending conversation about ‘fake news’ saying it was in the Bible.
The current Pope of the Catholic Church has said the first ever example of fake news can be seen in the Bible story as the devil, who is disguised as a serpent, tempts Eve into eating a piece of forbidden fruit.
The Pope explains how Eve was fed misinformation by Satan, who said the forbidden fruit would make her and Adam all-knowing, just like God.
As reported by Reuters, the Pope recently released a document entitled ‘The Truth Will Set You Free – Fake News and Journalism For Peace‘ which was issued in advance of the Catholic Church’s World Day of Social Communications which is held on May 1.
Here, he commented on fake news for the first time saying:
This biblical episode brings to light an essential element for our reflection: there is no such thing as harmless disinformation; on the contrary, trusting in falsehood can have dire consequences,
Fake news is a sign of intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes and leads only to the spread of arrogance and hatred. That is the end result of untruth.
Spreading fake news can serve to advance specific goals, influence political decisions, and serve economic interests.
This false but believable news is ‘captious’, inasmuch as it grasps people’s attention by appealing to stereotypes and common social prejudices and exploiting instantaneous emotions like anxiety, contempt, anger and frustration.
We need to unmask what could be called the ‘snake-tactics’ used by those (purveyors of fake news) who disguise themselves in order to strike at any time and place.
I would like to invite everyone to promote a journalism of peace, a journalism created by people for people.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) January 24, 2018
The release of this document follows months of debate surrounding how much fake news influenced the election of President Donald Trump, who seems strangely obsessed with the topic.
Although the Pope never names the President, Trump has claimed he came up with the term ‘fake news’ and is particularly fond of using it, especially to discredit the media who report on his administration.
In his document the Pope calls for an ‘education for truth’ so people can distinguish between news and fake news, emphasising journalism ‘is not just a job, it is a mission’.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke, a former reporter for US outlets, told Reuters:
The Pope is not saying all journalists are snakes but he’s certainly acknowledging they can be.
The Pope ended his document urging journalists to remember people are at the centre of stories, not clicks.