ROME (AP) — Pope Francis on Saturday warned against the danger of reducing human relationships to “mere algorithms” and urged lawmakers to be vigilant against “partisan” propaganda and divisiveness on social media.
In a speech to participants of the International Catholic Legislators Network, who were holding their annual conference in the Rome area, Francis noted that social media networks can be a way to help people realize they are part of something larger than themselves.
“Indeed, that is the stated aim of many social media platforms, and certainly much good takes place through these means of communication,” Francis said.
Still, the pontiff said, vigilance was needed, “for sadly many dehumanizing trends resulting from technocracy are found on these media.” He cited the deliberate spread of false information about people, fake news and the promotion of hatred and division. Francis further decried what he called “partisan propaganda and the reduction of human relationships to mere algorithms.”
Another peril on social media networks is “a false sense of belonging, especially among young people, that can lead to isolation and loneliness,” he said.
As a remedy, Francis advocated a “culture of authentic encounter, which involves a radical call to respect and to listen to one another, including those with whom we may strongly disagree.”