Pope Benedict XVI joins Twitter

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Pope Benedict XVI joins Twitter

Twitter has gained yet another highly influential member, as Pope Benedict XVI became the latest high profile user to register an account.

Adopting the name @pontifex, the current leader of the Catholic Church is the first Pope to personally use social media. As well as the English account, his tweets will also be translated into Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Polish, French and Arabic. He joins such powerful users as Barack Obama, David Cameron, the Dalai Lama and the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Twitter has verified the accounts of the Pontiff as genuine, with the Pope to answer questions regarding his faith in the near future. He has not yet sent a message to his near 500,000 followers, but thousands of Twitter users have sent an overwhelming number of tweets mentioning Pope Benedict.

Twitter reaction to Pope Benedict

The reaction from Twitter users to the arrival of the Pope was extremely mixed, as could perhaps be expected. There were mocking messages from comedians such as Frankie Boyle and Ricky Gervais, but on the other hand a large number of Catholics welcoming the Pontiff and thanking him for joining the website. Other questions ranged from users asking for forgiveness for their sins to the bizarre, as several people asked for the Pontiff's favourite Carly Rae Jepson song.

The Pope signing up to Twitter is another example of the growing power of the social media network. The recent presidential election in America saw both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney regularly using the service, with Twitter statistics predicting Obama's victory.

Tom Glass, creative director at theEword commented: "Twitter and Facebook have become hugely powerful social tools in recent years. The fact that someone in such an important and traditional position would use the service shows how accepted social media is as a communication tool. It will be interesting to see what kind of messages Pope Benedict posts when he firsts starts tweeting, and what the reaction of the public will be."