Pope Francis released the message during the feast day of St. Francis de Sales.

Pope Francis warned during his World Day of Social Communications speech of rising narcissism and the many “spirals of hatred” prevalent in multiple social media networks. In his January 24 speech, he encouraged his listeners to foster community via their Internet interactions. He pointed out that online discussions are too frequently centered on opposition to other viewpoints.

The pontiff went on to say people now define themselves in the light of what divides them and not the uniting factors. This instigates suspicion and prejudice of every kind comes out, be it sexual or religious or the other. The result is a digital environment which fosters uncontrolled individualism and results in spirals of hatred. Francis pointed out that all Christians are members of a single body where the head is of Christ. The same label can be given to enemies too, as there is no requirement anymore for any enemy as everyone is part of the same body.

The pope mentioned data privacy and touched upon the risk of using social networks which profit by selling the personal information their subscribers. Francis reiterated his point by saying that social networks could manipulate personal data and could contain economic or political advantages without giving any respect for the person and that individual's personal rights. The pope said even after all these harmful activities, the Catholic Church regards the Internet as a kind of tool which can be wielded for humanity's betterment.

Pope Francis warned although the internet offers many opportunities to link with other individuals, young persons could find themselves mistakenly thinking the Internet could be a one-stop shop for all relationship needs. The pontiff said social media increases the chance of young individuals becoming “social hermits.” These people are in danger of alienating themselves totally from society. He pointed out many engage in the detestable activity of cyberbullying.

Pope Francis is presently touring the Central American nation of Panama to attend the World Youth Day event. The 82-year-old released this message on the feast day of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of all journalists. He mentioned the propensity of misinformation and fake news peddled on the Internet. He said the Internet brings in risks which threaten the authentic share of information all over the world.

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