The availability of cheap gadgets and the growing of number of people having access to social media contribute to the proliferation of "fake news." In this photo, churchgoers take pictures during a Mass that will most likely end on social media. (Photo by Angie de Silva)
Catholic bishops in the Philippines have joined the fight against the proliferation of "fake news," saying that deception is "a sin against charity."
The Catholic bishops' conference urged people to refrain from "patronizing, popularizing and supporting identified sources of 'alternative facts' or 'fake news.'"
In a pastoral exhortation released on June 21, the bishops called on Filipinos not to be "purveyors of fake news" and "to desist from disseminating" false information.
The bishops said spreading "fake news" is a "sin against charity because it hinders people making right and sound decisions and induces them, instead, to make faulty ones." These often have disastrous consequences to people and to communities, they said.
"The active involvement of citizens in creating a nurturing society steeped in justice depends on the truth," said the church leaders.
A number of Catholic bishops have become victims of "fake news" and deceptive memes on social media when they criticized the government's war against narcotics.
The bishops said "deceit and lies" should be exposed with facts. They urged netizens to identify sources of "fake news" so that people will be alerted.
The proliferation of "fake news" on social media has become a recent phenomenon in the Philippines, especially with the election of President Rodrigo Duterte last year.
The president's supporters have turned to social media to attack critics of government policies.
In the Philippines, 58 percent of the 60 million population have access to the internet that is mostly used for social media.