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Philippine Bishops Speak Out Against False Information Spread Through Internet

July 06, 2017

“Consecrate them in the truth” is the title of the bishops’ exhortation to be read in every parish in the archipelago. 

 Its goal is to fight against the false information and rumors that spread thanks to Internet, whose consequences can be disastrous.

The first reason the pastoral exhortation gives is the importance of truth that is one of the foundations of human life and life in society:
 

The duty to speak the truth is so elemental a demand of morality and of good social order that it can hardly be reduced to more elementary precepts. (…) Human life would be impossible in a society where we constantly and habitually deceived each other.

The bishops then address the issue of false news spread at will on social media. They say spreading lies has become a veritable business under the name of “alternative facts”: “There are persons who have given themselves to the service of reporting what never happened, concealing what really happened, and distorting what should be presented in a straightforward manner.”

The letter from the Episcopal Conference goes on to explain how this shift towards misleading information came about: “Social media which, initially, promised to democratize expression and free the dissemination of truth from the clutches of moneyed entrepreneurs financing mainstream media has become the unfortunate site of ‘alternative facts’ and ‘fake news’.”

The consequences of this false information for human beings are not small:
 

Not only does this offend against the orientation of the human intellect to the truth. It is, more fundamentally, a sin against charity because it hinders persons from making right and sound decisions and induces them, instead, to make faulty ones.
 

The Philippines bishops then decreed four obligations:

  1. To refrain from patronizing, popularizing and supporting identified sources of ‘alternative facts’ or ‘fake news’.
  2. To rebut and refute falsehood whenever they are in possession of facts and of data.
  3. To refuse to be themselves purveyors of fake news and to desist from disseminating this whether on social media or by word of mouth or through any other form of public expression.
  4. To identify the sources of fake news so that our brothers and sisters may be duly alerted and may know which media and which sites to shun.

We your bishops join the Lord Jesus in His prayer that we all be consecrated in the truth, because the Word of the Lord is truth!

Between the manipulated press, the pressure groups, the powers of money, and gossip, there is a way of fighting against idle curiosity and intellectual dissipation: serious and profound study, inspired by the virtue of studiosity that moderates the desire to know and learn.