The pope is writing a document on fake news — and that’s the truth

Pope Francis and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila, center, greet a group of migrants, during his weekly general audience, at the Vatican, on Sept. 27, 2017. Pope Francis on Wednesday launched a two-year activism and awareness-raising campaign about the plight of migrants to counteract mounting anti-immigrant sentiment in the US, Europe and beyond. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool via AP)
Updated 29 September 2017
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The pope is writing a document on fake news — and that’s the truth

VATICAN CITY: If you ever wondered how to say “fake news” in Latin, it’s “nuntii fallaces” — and Pope Francis is writing a document on just that.
Francis announced it himself in a tweet to his nearly 40 million followers on Friday, saying the theme of his message for the Roman Catholic Church’s next World Day of Social Communications will be “The truth will set you free. Fake news and journalism for peace.”
In Latin, one of the nine languages the pope uses to tweet, that would be “Veritas liberavit vos. Nuntii fallaces et diurniariorum opus ad pacem.”
A Vatican statement said the issue was important enough for the pope to address because “fake news contributes to generating and nurturing a strong polarization of opinions.”
A distortion of facts, it said, can have “repercussions at the level of individual and collective behavior.”
Francis said in an interview last year that media that focus on scandals and spread fake news to smear politicians risk becoming like people who have a morbid fascination with excrement.
The Vatican statement said the leader of the 1.2 billion member Church wanted to offer “a reflection on the causes, the logic and the consequences of disinformation in the media, and helping to promote professional journalism, which always seeks the truth.”
The Church’s World Day of Social Communications is celebrated on January 24, feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron of journalists.
The message is usually released several weeks before. (Reporting By Philip Pullella)


Google employees demand more oversight of China search engine plan

A Google sign is seen during the China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference (ChinaJoy) in Shanghai, China August 3, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Google employees demand more oversight of China search engine plan

  • Hundreds of employees have called on the company to provide more “transparency, oversight and accountability
  • Employees have asked Google to create an ethics review group with rank-and-file workers, appoint ombudspeople to provide independent review and internally publish assessments of projects

SAN FRANCISCO: Google is not close to launching a search engine app in China, its chief executive said at a companywide meeting on Thursday, according to a transcript seen by Reuters, as employees of the Alphabet Inc. unit called for more transparency and oversight of the project.
Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told staff that though development is in an early stage, providing more services in the world’s most populous country fits with Google’s global mission.
Hoping to gain approval from the Chinese government to provide a mobile search service, the company plans to block some websites and search terms, Reuters reported this month, citing unnamed sources.
Whether the company could or would launch search in China “is all very unclear,” Pichai said, according to the transcript. “The team has been in an exploration stage for quite a while now, and I think they are exploring many options.”
Disclosure of the secretive effort has disturbed some Google employees and human rights advocacy organizations. They are concerned that by agreeing to censorship demands, Google would validate China’s prohibitions on free expression and violate the “don’t be evil” clause in the company’s code of conduct.
Hundreds of employees have called on the company to provide more “transparency, oversight and accountability,” according to an internal petition seen by Reuters on Thursday.
After a separate petition this year, Google announced it would not renew a project to help the US military develop artificial intelligence technology for drones.
The China petition says employees are concerned the project, code named Dragonfly, “makes clear” that ethics principles Google issued during the drone debate “are not enough.”
“We urgently need more transparency, a seat at the table and a commitment to clear and open processes: Google employees need to know what we’re building,” states the document seen by Reuters.
The New York Times first reported the petition on Thursday. Google declined to comment.
Company executives have not commented publicly on Dragonfly, and their remarks at the company-wide meeting marked their first about the project since details about it were leaked.
Employees have asked Google to create an ethics review group with rank-and-file workers, appoint ombudspeople to provide independent review and internally publish assessments of projects that raise substantial ethical questions.
Pichai told employees: “We’ll definitely be transparent as we get closer to actually having a plan of record here” on Dragonfly, according to the transcript. He noted the company guards information on some projects where sharing too early can “cause issues.”
Three former employees involved with Google’s past efforts in China told Reuters current leadership may see offering limited search results in China as better than providing no information at all.
The same rationale led Google to enter China in 2006. It left in 2010 over an escalating dispute with regulators that was capped by what security researchers identified as state-sponsored cyberattacks against Google and other large US firms.
The former employees said they doubt the Chinese government will welcome back Google. A Chinese official, who declined to be named, told Reuters this month that it is “very unlikely” Dragonfly would be available this year.