Don’t share ‘evil’ fake news, urges Pope

What happened?

Pope Francis denounced “fake news” and urged people to check the source of what they share on social media. In a message released for World Communications Day, he said the first instance of fake news was from the Garden of Eden, when the serpent lied to Eve.One reason to be wary of sharing a story, he said, was if it “discredits others, presenting them as enemies, to the point of demonising them and fomenting conflict”.

What the media are saying

The Pope’s intervention was widely welcomed. Kathryn Jean Lopez, writing at the National Review, called it an “urgent plea from a wise pastor”. She cited a wish from one Twitter user that an “ideological opponent would get hit by a bus” as an example of how we risk “losing our grasp on the reality of our common humanity”.

She quoted the Pope’s words that fake news was a “sign of intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes”, adding: “Aren’t we seeing such states of mind everywhere in people’s frequent inability to read not just beyond a headline but even past a word or a name?”

Elsewhere writers compared the Pope’s approach favourably to that of US President Donald Trump. Avi Selk, at the Washington Post, argued that while Trump “would tell you what is fake news”, the Pope’s message was “more or less a how-to guide” in figuring it out.

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