Twitter vibes show love to Pope Francis

2014-03-07 13:05
Daniele De Sanctis, dressed up as a pope, is handed to Pope Francis as he is driven through the crowd during his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican. (L'Osservatore Romano, AP, file)

Daniele De Sanctis, dressed up as a pope, is handed to Pope Francis as he is driven through the crowd during his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican. (L'Osservatore Romano, AP, file)

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Washington - Pope Francis is among admirers on Twitter where positive comments about him outweigh negative ones by a ratio of five to one, according to a Pew Research Centre study released on Thursday.

The Washington-based think tank, in a statement, said it analysed eight million tweets that made reference to the pope.

Most were neutral in tone, it said, but of those with "a discernible tone", 84% were positive and only 16% were negative.

That stood in stark contrast to his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, for whom Twitter comments with a tone were 30% positive but 70% negative, Pew said.

Pope Francis, 77, has 3.75 million followers at his @Pontifex English-language account that he took over along with the papacy in March last year following the resignation of Pope Benedict, the first pope ever to use Twitter.

The most-followed Twitter user, pop idol Katy Perry, boasts more than 51 million followers.

Using two different software platforms, Pew also determined that Pope Francis got nearly 50 000 media mentions across the 25 most-visited US digital media sources from his election through the end of January 2014, putting him on par with other major world leaders.

The biggest spike in media attention came in July 2013 when he stated "who am I to judge" if someone is gay - a remark seen by some as a possible softening of the Vatican's hard line against same-sex marriage.

Known for his frugality, the Argentine-born pope is widely seen among Americans as relatively liberal - a perception that has landed him on the cover of Time, Rolling Stone and the gay newsmagazine The Advocate.
Read more on:    roman catholic church  |  twitter  |  social networks

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