Pope Francis (who runs a very anti-LGBT Catholic Church and recently reaffirmed that gay/bi men can’t be priests) still occasionally says some worthwhile things, like yesterday when he compared people who share fake news to folks who eat shit. No, we’re not kidding.
In an interview with the Belgian Catholic weekly Tertio, Francis said :
“I think the media have to be very clear, very transparent, and not fall into – no offense intended – the sickness of coprophilia, that is, always wanting to cover scandals, covering nasty things, even if they are true. And since people have a tendency towards the sickness of coprophagia, a lot of damage can be done.”
To be accurate, Pope Francis actually said that sharing scandalous, slanderous stories — whether true or false — is as bad as coprophagia (eating poop) because both seek to harm people’s reputations. In his extended comments, the Pope specifically called the spreading of disinformation (fake news) as especially harmful because “it directs opinion in only one direction and omits the other part of the truth.”
As the old proverb goes, “A half truth is a whole lie.” So while we know some of you out there love coprophagia (we don’t wanna yuck your yum), eat as much poop as you want… just don’t share fake news.
And if you don’t believe in the Pope, maybe you’ll listen to late-night comedian Stephen Colbert. He doesn’t want you to share fake news either… not because of its bad taste, but because it can literally get people killed.
One last thing: While Facebook has reportedly patented new technology which could help squash fake news on its networks, Facebook isn’t the only place where fake news thrives. A more comprehensive solution will require Facebook to combine human judgement and digital algorithms while a larger social initiative should encourage folks to flag fake news wherever it occurs.