NOPE: The Pope Calls on Big Tech to Censor More Online

Pope Francis demanded more online censorship in a debate about equality. Pope Francis was discussing how the public views him as a “pest” for defending the poor.

When I think about the situations of exclusion or inequality, my questions make me a petty pest. So I continue asking. While participating online in the World Meeting of Popular Movements, the pope stated that he asked everyone “in the name of God”.

He then discussed social media and “hate speech” online, calling on Big Tech platforms to take an active stance in removing such speech from the internet.

The system’s relentless logic and profit motives are allowing it to escape all control. The locomotive is accelerating towards the bottom of the pits and it’s time to stop. He said, “There is still time.” He said, “I persist in my pestering.”

The pope added that restricting what sort of content appears online is a human rights issue and must be used to encourage “human fraternity and empathy.”

“In the name of God, I ask the technology giants to stop exploiting human weakness, people’s vulnerability, for the sake of profits without caring about the spread of hate speech, grooming, fake news, conspiracy theories, and political manipulation.

For the sake of God, I request the telecom giants to make it easier to access educational materials and connect teachers through the internet to allow poor children to be educated even if they are in quarantine.

“In the name of God, ask media to end the logic of disinformation, post-truth and defamation. I also request that they stop the unhealthy temptation to dirt and scandal and instead contribute to humanity and compassion with the most profoundly damaged.”

The Pope made similar statements calling on social media platforms to monitor the speech it hosts in 2019, and said the freedoms must be balanced “with the common good of society.”

“Freedom and the protection of privacy are valuable goods that need to be balanced with the common good of society,” he said at the time. “Authorities must be able to act effectively, using appropriate legislative and executive measures that fully respect the rule of law and due process, in order to counter criminal activities that harm the life and dignity of minors.”

Safety must be prioritized over all other considerations, he stated.

“It will not be possible to guarantee the safety of minors in the digital world without the full involvement of companies in this sector and without a full awareness of the moral and social repercussions of their management and functioning,” he added. “Such companies are bound not only to respect the law, but also to be concerned with the direction taken by the technological and social developments which they produce and promote, since such developments are far ahead of the laws that would seek to regulate them.”

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