84 percent of tweets about Pope Francis are positive, Pew study finds

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, March 6, 2014 13:33 EDT
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Pope Francis holds a press conference aboard the flight back to Italy from Rio de Janeiro (AFP)
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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 Center study released Thursday.

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

Most were neutral in tone, it said, but of those with “a discernable tone,” 84 percent were positive and only 16 percent were negative.

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

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
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