Pope complains popular users stealing the show on social media

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08:38 PM January 24th, 2013

January 24th, 2013 08:38 PM

In this Oct. 24, 2012, file photo, Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican for his weekly general audience. The Vatican spokesman on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, said that the 85-year-old Benedict will start tweeting from a personal Twitter account, perhaps before the end of the year. AP Photo/ANDREW MEDICHINI

VATICAN CITY – Twitter newcomer Pope Benedict XVI complained Thursday that popular social media users and smooth talkers are creating a din and stealing attention from those trying to address key social and faith issues.

“The culture of social networks… pose demanding challenges to those who want to speak about truth and values,” Benedict said in a speech to mark World Social Media day, in which he complained of the “din of excessive information” online.

The 85-year-old pontiff, who sent his first tweet in eight languages in December, said that “the significance and effectiveness” of social media messages “appear determined more by their popularity than by their intrinsic importance and value.”

“Popularity is often linked to celebrity or to strategies of persuasion rather than to the logic of argumentation,” said Benedict, who already has over a million followers on Twitter but has had to face a stream of mockery in response to his pious posts since launching on the social network.

“At times the gentle voice of reason can be overwhelmed by the din of excessive information and it fails to attract attention which is given instead to those who express themselves in a more persuasive manner,” he added.

Social networks “when engaged in a wise and balanced way, help to foster forms of dialogue and debate which, if conducted respectfully and with concern for… truthfulness, can reinforce the bonds of unity between individuals,” he said.

Users may be out to make new friends and “be entertained” but they “must make an effort to be authentic,” he added.

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