Pope Francis is coming to Instagram this weekend.
News from the Vatican’s media team that the man-in-white is about to land on the photo-sharing platform comes just a few weeks after he spent time chewing the fat with Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom in Rome. Is it possible Kevin had a quiet word in the pontiff’s ear, gently suggesting it was high time he created an account to complement the one already run by the Vatican?
Although not on Facebook yet (maybe Zuckerberg’s on the phone right now arranging a meeting), the pope does have a Twitter account (@pontifex) that’s amassed an impressive eight million followers since he started tweeting in May 2013.
How the pope’s Instagram offerings will differ from those on the Vatican’s account remains to be seen, but don’t expect the pope to start pulling a smartphone from under his large white robe to snap the occasional selfie as he goes about his day – it’s a safe bet his media team will be in control of the content.
Pope Francis is the first pope to embrace social media to any great extent, with the Vatican using the platform to keep the pontiff in closer contact with Catholics around the world.
To revamp its out-of-date communications operation, the Vatican called on the services of a former BBC chairman. In a talk last year, Lord Patten said it’d be “bizarre if the Vatican was to run its media with its eyes closed to the way every other media organisation is managed in the second decade of the 21st century.”
Pope Francis is reportedly going with the handle @franciscus for the new account, though it’s not clear if that was his first choice. The options were slim, however: @pontifex and @pontifex2 are already taken, as is @pope, @pontiff, @therealpope, and @iamthepope, but then that’s what happens when you leave it so long.
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