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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis against 'fake news': “We need to unmask snake-tactics”

On the feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalism, Pope Francis published his message for the World Day of Communication, which will be celebrated on May 13. 

Its title is “The truth will set you free,” and it warns of the danger of misinformation and 'fake news.'

The Vatican has been the victim of these false stories on more than one occasion. The most serious case occurred when Benedict XVI was reported dead. 

On social media, messages have been spread falsely quoting Pope Francis, such as 'Don't only live for children,' 'The first one to forget is the happiest,' and one even stating the pope had changed the 10 Commandments. 

The Vatican had to debunk these statements and texts attributed to Pope Francis in late 2015 and advised Catholics to be wary of “sweet” texts falsely attributed to the pope. 

From the Vatican, they explained when these false attributions are made, the date the quotes were expressed tends to be missing. 

Recently, a rumor spread on social media that the Holy Father used WhatsApp and responded to the faithful through the application. 

In his message for the World Day, Pope Francis explained that journalists who don't stop this practice risk becoming “unwilling accomplices in spreading biased and baseless ideas.”

The pope asked everyone to prevent and identify the way disinformation works to unmask “snake-tactics” capable of disguising and striking at any time and place.