Pope Francis is denouncing "fake news" as evil and is urging journalists to make it their mission to search for the truth.
After a week in which Francis faced unprecedented bad press during his South American tour, the pope released his annual social communications message today dedicated this year to "fake news and journalism for peace."
Francis writes that the first fake news dates 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 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," Francis said of the snake.
In his message, Francis gave an articulate explanation of "fake news" and why it is so effective and dangerous, saying it plays on stereotypes and prejudices, exploits anxieties and fears, and is spread via social media contacts who often all have the same point of view.
"The tragedy of disinformation is that it discredits others, presenting them as enemies, to the point of demonizing them and fomenting conflict," he said. "None of us can feel exempted from the duty of countering these falsehoods," he said.