According to Pope Francis, the first fake news dated from the biblical beginning of time when Eve was tempted to take an apple from the Garden of Eden, based on disinformation from the serpent, The Guardian reports.
Pope denounced fake news as “evil,” comparing it to the snake in the Garden of Eden, and urged journalists to make it their mission to search for the truth.
In his annual social communications message, Francis said fake news played on stereotypes and prejudices, and praised efforts to make social media users aware of false reports.
“The strategy of this skilled ‘Father of Lies’ is precisely mimicry, that sly and dangerous form of seduction that worms its way into the heart with false and alluring arguments,” he said of the snake.
He called for a shared commitment to rediscovering the “dignity of journalism” and for reporters to speak the truth with work that was “truthful and opposed to falsehoods, rhetorical slogans, and sensational headlines.”
The message made no reference to how some public figures, most notably the US president, Donald Trump, often label unflattering or critical reports “fake news” to try to discredit the information.
During his recent trip to Chile and Peru, Francis faced the worst protests of his five-year papacy, as well as the worst press.
He went into the trip facing criticisms for having appointed a bishop accused by victims of being complicit in covering up for Chile’s most notorious paedophile priest, and was then harshly criticised in the Chilean media for having accused those victims of “slander.”
Before Francis became pope, he was known for his frosty relations with the Argentinian media.
While chatting with reporters aboard the papal plane, he admitted he hated giving interviews and joked: “And look at the job God gave me now.”
Francis has learned as pope to use the media to get his message across, but he still frequently complains about what he considers one-sided reporting and what he has dubbed the “sins of the media: disinformation, slander and defamation.”