The Pope is calling for more inclusion and respect on social media. Too often, social media sites are full of bullying, harassment, and all manner of racism and sexism.
According to Catholic News Agency, Pope Francis hopes that social media platforms and digital communication become a place of inclusion rather than a place of isolation. He announced his request in his June prayer video. Pope Francis opened his video by saying the internet “Is a gift from God, but it is also a great responsibility.”
The Internet can be used to share information at the speed of light, and it’s already changed the world in countless ways. During the powerful East Coast earthquake on August 23, 2011, citizens in New York City saw Twitter alerts about the activity originating in Virginia a full 20 seconds before seismic waves hit their location. According to Facebook, the word “earthquake” appeared in the status updates of three million users within four minutes of the quake. Even though social platforms can be a powerful tool for good, they’ve been known for doing damage to people’s personal lives.
Many people have suffered from cyberbullying, especially over the past few years. People get on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms and attack people they don’t like. This causes people to feel isolated and often leads to more serious consequences. This “pile on” phenomenon is exactly what Francis is urging against.
Pope Francis ended his prayer on June 5 asking people to join him by praying that social media networks can find a way to work toward inclusiveness and respect people regardless of their differences.
According to the Vatican/a>, Pope Francis releases a video each month detailing his prayer intention. It’s all a part of the group called The Apostleship of Prayer, which produces the videos. The group was founded in 1844 as a way to help Christians serve God and others for the needs of the church.
The Pope has been extremely outspoken about the need to use social media as a way to spread truth. He has a large following on Twitter (47 million followers, to be exact) and uses it as a way of solidarity.