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In light of the current media trend of reporting and resorting to fake news and gossiping, and some netizens are somehow careless in becoming an instruments to spread it.

Some social media users already have a habit of not making a diligent effort to verify the truthfulness of the news, and a lot of people who post on comments even link the fake news and worst posted it on their channels, clearly either unaware or intentionally to malign the character of a person.

The subject of fake news usually is a recipient of character assassination and maligning one's dignity.

The common habits in social media is sharing or posting "Fake News" and gossiping "Fake News" both action will end up damaging the subject's/person's character.

Has the Catholic Church particularly cited or considered sharing "Fake News" and gossiping "Fake News" as a griveous/mortal offense to God commandments especially if this common thing/actions in the mainstream & social media becomes habitual?

  • @Geremia "Pope Francis sees origin of fake news in the snake's lies in the Garden of Eden". latimes.com/world/europe/… – marian agustin Aug 23 '18 at 23:38
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    Okay, so by "fake news" means lies. Why not just ask about whether spreading lies is a sin. – Geremia Aug 24 '18 at 3:03
  • @Geremia it's the termed or phrase in the digital age. fake news is the world of social media today. So, I think it's high time for the Church to include the term in the Examination of Conscience so the members is guided in particulars to their current behavior.thanks – marian agustin Aug 24 '18 at 3:06
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    I'd suggest that part of the reason this question was so poorly received was because it was more propaganda than question. You asked whether the RCC had ever done something, knowing full well that they had not, and –based on your own comments– did so because you thought it was "high time they did". In other words this entire post was trying to draw attention to something you perceived as an issue, not an attempt to learn something. At least that's the way it reads — and I think that explains a lot of the negative reactions. – Caleb Aug 30 '18 at 7:12
  • no, it's always been the case, if you highlight a positive news or qualities of Pope Francis, then expect the downvote to fall. look at my answer below, it's all quoted but yet they dislike the truth coming from Pope Francis.you can check the many thread answers & questions relating to Pope Francis.it wont be hard to figure out the truth.thanks. – marian agustin Aug 30 '18 at 8:44
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Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

The Eighth Commandment condemns lying. Because God is regarded as the author of all truth, the Church believes that humans are obligated to honor the truth. The most obvious way to fulfill this commandment is not to lie — intentionally deceive another by speaking a falsehood. So a good Catholic is who you want to buy a used car from. Source: Catholicism and the Ten Commandments

Whether it is a mortal sin or not 3 conditions must be met:

  1. An act of grave matter that is…
  2. Committed with full knowledge and…
  3. Deliberate consent.

More on mortal sin can be found here.

  • I'm looking if the word "did I spread fake news or gossip fake news" in the Examination of Conscience guidelines before Confession if the Church had included that pondering.,as this kind of action is somehow habitual already in social media, and bordering on satisfying the 3 conditions already.thanks. – marian agustin Aug 22 '18 at 12:11
  • I thought it was pretty clear the question wasn't asking about deliberately spreading misleading information, but about people who aren't diligent enough in their checking of the veracity of what they share. – curiousdannii Aug 22 '18 at 12:17
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    @marianagustin, "fake news" is a modern term and basically means lies. And lies are included in the Examination of Conscience guidelines before Confession. – Grasper Aug 22 '18 at 13:26
  • @curiousdannii, the question was highlighted in bold. And that's what I gave the answer to. – Grasper Aug 22 '18 at 13:28
  • Not all fake news is from Satan, I enjoy a good April Fools story every once and awhile. "The Catholic Church teaches that for a sin to be mortal the three condition must be present." True! "But knowing that fake news originates from Satan himself the probability that we are committing a mortal sin is very high, and the worst we belong to the Father of Lies." I am not too sure that is completely true. Like most things related to gossip, it will also depend on the seriousness of the subject matter. Saying that a pope has an ingrown toenail when he does not, would not be a mortal sin. – Ken Graham Aug 24 '18 at 22:51
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Is sharing “FAKE NEWS” and gossiping “FAKE NEWS” a mortal sin?

Let us first defined the meaning of "fake news";

Fake news or junk news or pseudo-news is a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media. The false information is often caused by reporters paying sources for stories, an unethical practice called checkbook journalism. Digital news has brought back and increased the usage of fake news, or yellow journalism. The news is then often reverberated as misinformation in social media but occasionally finds its way to the mainstream media as well.

Fake news is written and published usually with the intent to mislead in order to damage an agency, entity, or person, and/or gain financially or politically, often using sensationalist, dishonest, or outright fabricated headlines to increase readership. Similarly, clickbait stories and headlines earn advertising revenue from this activity.

Let us also take further a look at the other definition and the proper identification of "fake news" and their intentions;

Fake news is a neologism often used to refer to fabricated news. This type of news, found in traditional news, social media or fake news websites, has no basis in fact, but is presented as being factually accurate.

The intent and purpose of fake news is important. In some cases, what appears to be fake news may be news satire, which uses exaggeration and introduces non-factual elements that are intended to amuse or make a point, rather than to deceive. Propaganda can also be fake news. Some researchers have highlighted that "fake news" may be distinguished not just by the falsity of its content, but also the "character of [its] online circulation and reception".

Claire Wardle of First Draft News identifies seven types of fake news:

  1. satire or parody ("no intention to cause harm but has potential to fool")

  2. false connection ("when headlines, visuals or captions don't support the content")

  3. misleading content ("misleading use of information to frame an issue or an individual")

  4. false context ("when genuine content is shared with false contextual information")

  5. impostor content ("when genuine sources are impersonated" with false, made-up sources)

  6. manipulated content ("when genuine information or imagery is manipulated to deceive", as with a "doctored" photo)

  7. fabricated content ("new content is 100% false, designed to deceive and do harm")

It is also noteworthy to ponder what Pope Francis had stated regarding "fake news";

Pope Francis has brought a biblical bearing to the global debate over fake news by condemning the phenomenon as satanic and saying it began in the Garden of Eden.

In a document released Wednesday, Francis claimed peddlers of fake news use “snake tactics” and “disguise themselves in order to strike at any time and place.”

Francis pinned responsibility for the start of disinformation on the “crafty serpent,” who, according to the Bible, “at the dawn of humanity, created the first fake news.”

By persuading Eve there was nothing wrong with eating an apple from the tree of knowledge, despite the stern warning from God not to do so, the snake, with fake news, “began the tragic history of human sin,” Francis wrote.

Pope Francis sees origin of fake news in the snake's lies in the Garden of Eden

After knowing what "fake news" is all about, now let us define "mortal sin" according to Catholic Church teachings;

A mortal sin (Latin: peccatum mortale), in Catholic theology, is a gravely sinful act, which can lead to damnation if a person does not repent of the sin before death. A sin is considered to be "mortal" when its quality is such that it leads to a separation of that person from God's saving grace.

The term "mortal sin" is thought to be derived from the New Testament of the Bible. Specifically, it has been suggested that the term comes from the 1 John 5:16–17.3 In this particular verse, the author of the Epistle writes "There is a sin that leads to death."

In Roman Catholic moral theology, a mortal sin requires that all of the following conditions are met:

  1. Its subject matter must be grave.

  2. It must be committed with full knowledge (and awareness) of the sinful action and the gravity of the offense.

  3. It must be committed with deliberate and complete consent.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines grave matter (1858):

Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother." The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger. - Mortal Sin (Wikipedia)

Looking at the definition of "fake news" and "mortal sins" in particulars three conditions of committing it. We can conclude that indeed the Catholic Church teaches that spreading and gossiping "fake news" falls under the category of "grave sins". Since "fake news" definitely contains lies and the author or the one spreading or uploading and sharing it's content has full knowledge of it and if there is a deliberate and willful intent on their part it fully satisfies the conditions set by the Catholic Church teachings.

But, how about those who reported, spreads or gossips a "True News" that contains information intentionally to ruin the refutation of one's neighbor, is that a mortal sins too? YES, it's called the "Sins of the Tongue or backbiting tongue":

SINS OF THE TONGUE THE BACKBITING TONGUE Originally written in French in 1870, Fr. Belet wages war against one of the worst sins of his (and our) time - backbiting - better known to us as detraction (telling the faults of others without cause). Most of us do not realize how evil this sin is. In fact, many of us don't think it's a sin at all. After ruining someone's reputation, or satisfying our anger (and yes, our hatred) by spewing out every bad thing we can say about someone, we justify ourselves by saying, "Well, it's true!" We even think we are acting justly by giving someone what they deserve.. Due to our lack of charity and also to our pride, little do we see things from God's point of view, to whom these are vile sins - a form of hatred of neighbor - a failure to do the two things necessary - to love God and our neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40).

St.John Chrysostom reminded even those who justified they are just telling the truth eventhough by saying and spreading "truthful news" publicly would ruin one's refutation;

Saint John Chrysostom paints an eloquent picture of the evils of backbiting. “What is the use of sparing birds and fishes if we eat our own brothers?” he says. Indeed, the backbiter rips his brother’s flesh with his teeth and tears his neighbor’s body to shreds. That is what Saint Paul wants to frighten us from when he says, “If you bite and devour one another, take heed or you will be consumed by one another.” (Galatians 5:15)

And to keep us from sidestepping this admonition, Saint John Chrysostom adds, “Do not tell me, ‘I would be a slanderer only if I lied. I am committing no slander if I tell the truth.’ Error! Speaking evil of others, even if the evil be true, is always a crime. Surely the publican was really a publican and a sinner; but he left cleansed of all his defilements because he was scorned by the Pharisee. You want to correct your brother? Weep, pray to God, warn him by speaking to his heart, advise and exhort him. That is how Saint Paul acted. ‘But backbiting is so sweet!’ you say. Yes, but not backbiting is sweeter still. The backbiter creates deadly anxiety for himself, he is constantly besieged by suspicion and fear. He repents, but too late; he bites his tongue, but in vain; he trembles, for as his words spread, they may cause him grave danger and expose those who repeat them to enmities which so easily could have been avoided.” (Saint John Chrysostom, Homily 3, Ad pop Antioch.)

Therefore, let us eliminate every sort of backbiting, knowing full well that were we to eat ashes, all our austerities would be useless to us if we linger in this vice. - SINS OF THE TONGUE – Fr. Belet – Part One

Full content of the Sins of the Tongue by Fr.Belet link:

SINS OF THE TONGUE: The Backbiting Tongue By Father Belet, of the Diocese of Basle Translated from the French, 1870 ed.

Lastly, the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the 8th Commandments fully tackles the sins of spreading and gossiping "fake news" as one good example below;

CCC2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one's neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity. - Catechism of the Catholic Church

  • To enhance your response you may wish to demonstrate that not all such news is a mortal sin.. Fake news in wartime is deliberately done to confuse the enemy. There are also Catholic websites that publish "April Fool's" new each year and some of them are real gems for suckers! – Ken Graham Apr 15 at 12:59
  • @KenGraham We only commit mortal sin if we satisfied the three conditions. Fake news as defined is a grave matter as it contained a lie that is directed to malign our neighbor's character. Even in matters where the accusation is true, St,John Chrysostom said, spreading & gossiping it to others is a mortal sin against charity & justice. Your example of "April Fools" is not an exemption too as Jesus teaches us even "idle words" will be accounted on our judgement day. Matthew12:36-37. You cannot even excuse wartime as the Holy Spirit will not inspire Her Church to spread Lies. – marian agustin Apr 15 at 18:30
  • The gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims. If a lie in itself only constitutes a venial sin, it becomes mortal when it does grave injury to the virtues of justice and charity. - Catechism of the Catholic Church 2844 – Ken Graham Apr 15 at 23:10
  • @KenGraham Fake News is not a venial sin it is defined as grave matter CCC1858 "Do not bear false witness". And since those who create,spread and gossips "fake news" knows fully that it contains lies but still upload/share it and worse spread it publicly thru social media even commenting on channels to ruin the person reputation makes it serious. Not to mention it becomes a habit for some to attack the dignity for ex. Pope Francis who had been the recipient of "fake news" from Rad Trads channel like Dr.Marshall, Charles Coloumbe,M.Matt and M.Voris,etc. CCC2479 was committed by these people. – marian agustin Apr 16 at 0:29
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Is sharing “Fake News” and gossiping “Fake News” a mortal sin?

That will depend on the gravity of the particular situation at hand.

Fake news, like lying, is a sin. But not all fake news or lying is a mortal sin.

It is true that we should not bear false witness against our neighbor. But some fake news and lying does no damage to our neighbors reputation at all.

Pope Francis sees origin of fake news in the snake's lies in the Garden of Eden and as such fake news are lies.

I am going to let the Catechism of the Catholic Church speak for itself here:

2482 "A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving." The Lord denounces lying as the work of the devil: "You are of your father the devil, . . . there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

2483 Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error. By injuring man's relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the Lord.

2484 The gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims. If a lie in itself only constitutes a venial sin, it becomes mortal when it does grave injury to the virtues of justice and charity.

2486 Since it violates the virtue of truthfulness, a lie does real violence to another. It affects his ability to know, which is a condition of every judgment and decision. It contains the seed of discord and all consequent evils. Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships.

2487 Every offense committed against justice and truth entails the duty of reparation, even if its author has been forgiven. When it is impossible publicly to make reparation for a wrong, it must be made secretly. If someone who has suffered harm cannot be directly compensated, he must be given moral satisfaction in the name of charity. This duty of reparation also concerns offenses against another's reputation. This reparation, moral and sometimes material, must be evaluated in terms of the extent of the damage inflicted. It obliges in conscience.

Not all fake news constitutes grave matter. For example Catholic Culture tends to run an April Fool's story every year. Such untruths are definitely not grave matter and some of them are real gems for suckers involved.

Here are just a few examples:

If however the fake news or lying seriously damages someone's reputation, than yes such news and lying as well as its gossip is then serious matter and therefore a mortal sin.

1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother." The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger. - Catechism of the Catholic Church

Not all fake news is from Satan, I enjoy a good April Fools story every once and awhile. "The Catholic Church teaches that for a sin to be mortal the three condition must be present." True! If someone were to say: "But knowing that fake news originates from Satan himself, the probability that we are committing a mortal sin is very high and the worst we belong to the Father of Lies." I am not too sure that is completely true. Like most things related to gossip, it will also depend on the seriousness of the subject matter. Saying that a pope has an ingrown toenail when he does not, would not constitute a mortal sin.

  • The question at hand focus on maligning the reputations of ones neighbor thru "fake news", it is not asking for April Fools type of lies which is not meant to harm anyone. Good thing your last paragraph affirmed that spreading & gossiping "fake news" is a mortal sin, as St.Philip Neri called gossipers "Chicken Pluckers".because once we damage a person's character we cannot undo the harm that we inflicted on a person dignity esp. if the subject is the Vicar of Christ. – marian agustin Apr 16 at 12:33
  • @marianagustin Your statement here is a 180 degree turn from the other comment you made to your answer: "We only commit mortal sin if we satisfied the three conditions. Fake news as defined is a grave matter as it contained a lie that is directed to malign our neighbor's character. Even in matters where the accusation is true, St. John Chrysostom said, spreading & gossiping it to others is a mortal sin against charity & justice. Your example of "April Fools" is not an exemption too as Jesus teaches us even "idle words" will be accounted on our judgement day. Matthew12:36-37" – marian agustin" – Ken Graham Apr 16 at 13:42
  • Ken Graham is this your own words? ""But knowing that fake news originates from Satan himself, the probability that we are committing a mortal sin is very high and the worst we belong to the Father of Lies."..with regards to your ex. "saying a Pope has toenail".Ponder this proverb "open your mouth only when the words your going to speak is more beautiful than silence." Read also Matthew12:36 – marian agustin Apr 16 at 20:53

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