Friday 19 July 2019

Francis slams 'snake tactics' of fake news

Fake news satanic, says Pope. Photo: AP
Fake news satanic, says Pope. Photo: AP

The Pope has condemned fake news as satanic and denounced the "snake tactics" of those that spread it.

Francis compared the use of fake news to the Bible story of the Devil, who, disguised as a serpent, persuaded Eve to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree.

The Pope said she was told the fruit would make her as all-knowing as God.

"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," he said.


"Fake news is a sign of intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes, and leads only to the spread of arrogance and hatred."

It is widely held that fake news influenced the 2016 US presidential campaign and the election of President Donald Trump.

The Pope was speaking in a document called The Truth Will Set You Free, issued in advance of the Catholic Church's World Day of Social Communications on May 13.

"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," said the Pope.

False stories, said Francis, spread so quickly that even authoritative denials often could not contain the damage done.

He said many people run the risk of becoming "unwilling accomplices in spreading biased and baseless ideas".

He called for "education for truth" that would help people discern, evaluate and understand news in order to recognise the "sly and dangerous form of seduction that worms its way into the heart with false and alluring arguments".

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