The delay in the Pope's Twitter launch has meant that phony Twitter accounts which use the Pope's name have multiplied. Many of them use official portraits of the pope as their avatar and have thousands of followers. One spoof site sends tweets in Italian that range from off-color private thoughts to what the pope is having for dinner. The Vatican said it hopes that with the launch of this official feed, the unofficial sites will stop or become less popular, and in some cases, if misleading, could even be closed down by Twitter.
Greg Burke, a media adviser to the Vatican, said it would be strange if the pope was not tweeting in today's world. "This is someone who writes a lot, who gives a lot of speeches, whose job it is to spread the good news. Tweeting is a great way to do this. It is not the only way but it's certainly a good way."
The Vatican already offers a dozen official Twitter feeds in different languages, including @news_va_en; @PCCS_va; and the social network @Pope2YouVatican. The Pope sent his first-ever papal tweet in 2011 -- not from his official site but from a Vatican one -- when he launched the Vatican's online news portal www.news.va, which collects news from various Vatican media offices and online outlets.
More Vatican advances in the digital arena were announced today: a new app for iPad and smartphones to be launched next week called The Pope App, an E-book on the Year of Faith in 6 volumes, and a larger launch of the pope's YouTube channel.