In his first month on Twitter, Pope Benedict XVI sent two dozen mini-messages in nine languages, generating more than 270,000 comments and responses from other Twitter users, according to a study conducted by an Italian Jesuit magazine.
While some of the comments were harsh and even obscene, negative comments accounted for about 8 per cent of the total, according to the magazine Popoli. It published the results of their “sentiment analysis” of tweeted reactions to Pope Benedict on January 28.
According to the study, more than 200,000 – about 82 per cent – of the responses were simply retweets or “neutral” comments on what the Pope tweeted, from December 12-January 15 through his @Pontifex accounts.
Nearly 10 per cent of the tweeted reactions were positive.
The magazine reported 26,426 “positive” tweets, which the study divided into categories, such as:
- 26.5 per cent of the positive tweets were retweets of the Pope’s message with a brief comment, or cited the Pope’s words.
- 25 per cent thanked the Pope or wished him well.
- 15.6 per cent were prayers, particularly after the Pope mentioned suffering in Nigeria and Syria.
- 12 per cent were “welcome to Twitter” or other comments on the Pope joining the social network.
- 7.6 per cent asked the Pope questions about meaning and life.
- 7 per cent were comments defending the Pope.
- Popoli defined 22,542 tweets as “negative” and divided them into categories:
- 26 per cent mentioned paedophilia or the clerical sex abuse scandal
- 25 per cent were “direct insults”
- 20 per cent were criticisms of the perceived power or wealth of the Vatican
- 16 per cent were ironic or satiric.
- 8.5 per cent mentioned gay marriage.