Chapter Three of Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation continues its examination of the digital environment. You can access the full document on this link at the Vatican site.
The Holy Father reminds all that there are significant dangers in social media. Not in the least are forces that seek to manipulate thinking of users. Some church members have been active in this for the past twenty years. Fake news can propagate to the local level. Previous generations struggled with gossip and detraction, even within institutional channels. Social media makes for a wider reach today.
89. It should not be forgotten that “there are huge economic interests operating in the digital world, capable of exercising forms of control as subtle as they are invasive, creating mechanisms for the manipulation of consciences and of the democratic process. The way many platforms work often ends up favoring encounter between persons who think alike, shielding them from debate.
Perhaps the single most damaging element in this: the favorability of like-mindedness.
These closed circuits facilitate the spread of fake news and false information, fomenting prejudice and hate. The proliferation of fake news is the expression of a culture that has lost its sense of truth and bends the facts to suit particular interests. The reputation of individuals is put in jeopardy through summary trials conducted online. The Church and her pastors are not exempt from this phenomenon”.[FD 24]
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