VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis linked on Wednesday fake news to the human desires of greed and thirst for power, and called on journalists to counter the phenomenon.
The pontiff made his comments in an annual statement that was released by the Holy See ahead of World Communications Day.
“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 said.
“The economic and manipulative aims that feed disinformation are rooted in a thirst for power, a desire to possess and enjoy,” he added.
The pontiff stressed the importance of educating people in being able to “discern, evaluate and understand our deepest desires and inclinations” in order to confront the problem.
He warned that disinformation discredited others and presented them as enemies, which led to demonization and proliferation of conflict.
“Fake news is a sign of intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes, and leads only to the spread of arrogance and hatred,” the pope said.
He lauded people as the solution to countering fake news, and said it was journalists who shouldered a “weighty responsibility” as “protectors of news.”
“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,” the pope said of journalists.
Pope Francis advocated what he termed “a journalism of peace,” which he said was “truthful and opposed to falsehoods, rhetorical slogans, and sensational headlines.”
The annual World Communications Day will fall on May 13.