Pope Francis will join the photo-sharing website Instagram on Saturday, according to the prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications.
Mg Dario Vigano told Vatican Radio yesterday that the Pope will make his Instagram debut on March 19, the Feast of St Joseph – the same day on which he will sign his post-synodal document on the family. He will join around 400 million other users.
Last month the Pope met Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom, who founded the social networking site in 2010.
Systrom posted a photo of the meeting on his Instagram profile, describing it as “by far one of the most memorable experiences of my life”. He said they spoke about “the power of images to unite people across different cultures and languages”.
Pope Francis, who has almost nine million Twitter followers, has shown an increasing interest in the tech world. In 2016 he has also met Eric Schmidt of Google and Apple’s CEO Tim Cook.
“Access to digital networks entails a responsibility for our neighbour whom we do not see but who is nonetheless real and has a dignity which must be respected. The internet can be used wisely to build a society which is healthy and open to sharing.”
The Pope described the digital world as “a public square, a meeting place where we can either encourage or demean one another, engage in a meaningful discussion or unfair attacks”.
He said that technology could be used for good as well as bad purposes. “It is not technology which determines whether or not communication is authentic, but rather the human heart and our capacity to use wisely the means at our disposal,” he said. Social networks can facilitate relationships and promote the good of society, but they can also lead to further polarisation and division between individuals and groups.”
Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift have the biggest following on Instagram, with 69 million followers each.