In the biblical account of Genesis 3, Adam and Eve allowed themselves to be tricked by Satan into eating fruit from a forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden.
But even though God warned Adam in in Genesis 2 to not eat fruit from “the tree of knowledge of good and evil,” the couple both ate it after Satan told Eve that God was only tricking them into not partaking in something that would give them God’s omniscient knowledge.
That, Pope Francis said during a World Communications Day speech on Wednesday, was the world’s first “fake news,” according to NBC News. And “fake news,” he said, through the “manipulative use of social networks” can have “dire consequences.”
“We need to unmask what could be called the ‘snake-tactics’ used by those who disguise themselves in order to strike at any time and place,” Pope Francis said. “This was the strategy employed by the ‘crafty serpent’ in the Book of Genesis, who, at the dawn of humanity, created the first fake news which began the tragic history of human sin.”
He called fake news “a sign of intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes” and said it “leads only to the spread of arrogance and hatred.”
While a little disinformation can be harmless, the pontiff warned that, “Even a seemingly slight distortion of the truth can have dangerous effects.”
He did not delve into the sticky political usages of the term “fake news.”
Conservatives often accuse mainstream media outlets like CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post of misinformation, misrepresentation, and strategic omission in order to push a leftist political agenda. Conversely, liberals claim President Trump supporters — and Russia — used misleading stories and hoaxes to get their candidate elected.
Trump himself once called fake news “the enemy of the people,” specifically referring to mainstream media outlets.
Some liberals want to ban the term “fake news,” as seen in a CNN opinion piece that called the two-word combination “self-defeating” and an oversimplification of “a very complex problem.” But the term has become so popular that Wikipedia has an incredibly lengthy article dedicated to the preponderance of fake news used throughout the world at key points in history, starting in the first century B.C.
What do you think of Pope Francis’ words? In other news, President Trump is asking for prayer for a special little girl.