Caveat pipiator: The Vatican and Twitter

Who’s tweeting the tweeters? 

When I learned that the Vatican had launched a couple Twitter feeds, I thought was do these … folks, know what they are in for?  If this is being handled by the usual sort of techno-twit I have encountered there… they are in for some trouble.

Now I find this.

Fellow Minnesotan and long-time CNS Rome correspondent John Thavis has some of the skinny on the Vatican’s step into (pace Mr. Eliot) "this twittering world".


Who’s tweeting for the Vatican?
Posted on January 25, 2010 by John Thavis

VATICAN CITY — Over the weekend some media announced that the Vatican had opened a Twitter feed. Intrigued, I quickly went to "@vatican_va" on Twitter. At first glance, it looked like the Vatican [uh oh] — there was the Vatican coat of arms, the Vatican flag and a link to the Vatican Web site. And hundreds of tweets in many languages, linking to Vatican Radio stories.

Then I e-mailed Father Federico Lombardi, who heads both the Vatican press office and Vatican Radio. I got a response rather quickly, and a surprising one. He said the Twitter feed was news to him,[uh oh again]  and that neither the press office nor Vatican Radio was doing the tweeting. A call to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications elicited a similar response: it wasn’t them, and they didn’t know who it was.

Hmmm. This was beginning to look more and more like online impersonation.  Perhaps not the first, either: I knew there was already a "@vaticanen" Twitter feed that also identified itself as “Vatican” without, as far as I knew, any authorization.

A few more calls around the Vatican this morning elicited more surprise and some concern. [They better be concerned.] I have the impression that Vatican Radio may be seriously considering a Twitter feed, and doesn’t like being hijacked like this.

At this point, no one I’ve spoken with here has any idea who’s tweeting for the Vatican. More as it develops…


Caveat pipiator.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. It looks like some kind of Twitter version of an RSS feed.

    I wonder if this is one of those cases where the IT guy just assumed something should be there, sets it up, and doesn’t bother to tell anybody…. Alternately, it could be that some kibitzer set up an RSS feed for his own convenience, and didn’t realize that he should stay away from anything official looking.

  2. Mark M says:

    The BBC Scotland feed on Twitter is the same, if memory serves, that is, Twitter just picking up an RSS feed.

    If everyone’s so worried, simply get Twitter to go through the “Verified Account” process, e.g. how you know that really is/was Stephen Fry.

    You’d think if that Vatican went to the trouble of getting a dedicated YouTube channel, that they’d do Twitter and Facebook at the same time… Put someone cluefull in charge of Internet communications please!

  3. chorst01 says:

    Interesting story. How does one deal with Twitter inpersonation? What is the recourse?

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