With social platforms increasingly targeting so-called “fake news,” Pope Francis has decided to weigh-in, dedicating his message for the 2018 World Day of Social Communications to providing the truth and eliminating the spread of false information. Announced Sept. 29, the theme for the 2018 message is: “The truth will set you free: Fake news and journalism for peace.” A communique from the Vatican Secretariat of Communications, headed by Msgr. Dario Eduardo Vigano, said the Pope’s message will be centered on “so-called ‘fake news,’” which is “baseless information that contributes to generating and nurturing a strong polarization of opinions.” Fake news, the communique read, “involves an often misleading distortion of facts, with possible repercussions at the level of individual and collective behavior.”
Since the big players among social media companies, global institutions and even politics are now confronting the issue, “the Church too wishes to offer a contribution.” To this end, the Church wishes to put forward “a reflection on the causes, the logic and the consequences of disinformation in the media.” Her goal is also to help in promoting “professional journalism, which always seeks the truth, and therefore a journalism of peace that promotes understanding between people.” World Day of Social Communications was established in 1963 with the document Inter Mirifica on the media of social communications, and was the only global celebration to be requested by the Second Vatican Council.
The event is celebrated in countries throughout the world on the Sunday after Pentecost, which next year falls on May 13, 2018. The Pope’s message for the event is typically published on the Jan. 24, the feast of Saint Francis de Sales, patron of journalists.