Pope tops 40 million followers on Twitter, 5 million on Instagram

By Matthew Fowler

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis’ @Pontifex Twitter
accounts reached more than 40 million followers just a few months before the
fifth anniversary of when Pope Benedict XVI launched the initiative.

The papal Twitter accounts, in nine different languages,
have grown by over 9 million followers in the past 12 months, representing the interest
and attention of “the people — ordinary people, Christians and non-Christians,
political leaders — for the Holy Father’s tweets,” the Vatican
Secretariat for Communication said Oct. 11.

The accounts, it said, are a way for Pope Francis to personally
connect with people around the world.

“Every day, through his tweets, Pope Francis makes
himself available to men and women through social media, at times offering a spiritual
thought,” it said, “other times sharing with his followers a
reflection on events of great significance for the international

The secretariat’s prefect, Msgr. Dario Vigano, told Vatican
Radio that “the pope takes great care of his social profiles, to such an
extent that he closely and carefully checks all the tweets, which are then published.”

It shows the pope’s concern and “care for relationships”
even over the internet, even though the pope has admitted he is not savvy with new
technologies, Msgr. Vigano said. The pope knows, he said, that the web is
“a network not of wires but of people.”

In a recent report on Twitter by Twiplomacy.com, which ranks
world leaders’ impact on the social media platform, the @Pontifex accounts had the
second-most followers among world leaders, only 200,000 followers behind the
U.S. president, @realDonaldTrump. Since the report, both the president and the
pope’s followers have continued to grow, with Trump’s account exceeding the
40.3 million mark, maintaining a tight lead over Pope Francis.

Twiplomacy ranked the pope as coming in third among world
leaders with the most interactions and being the most influential because of
his average of 41,000 retweets.

The pope also communicates digitally via Instagram, the
social image channel. His account, @Franciscus, was approaching 5 million
followers since its creation March 19, 2015. The majority of Instagram
followers are from the ages of 25-34, with the United States and Brazil being
the countries where it is most followed.

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