The Vatican and Instagram are both investigating how Pope Francis’s official Instagram account end up liking a photo of a scantily dressed Brazilian model Natalia Garibotto.
It is unclear when the photo of Natalia Garibotto was given an endorsement by the pope’s verified account, but the “like” which has now been removed.
Garibotto, who has 2.4 million Instagram followers later joked: “At least I’m going to heaven.” Her management company, COY Co seized the papal endorsement for publicity by reposting the image with the Papal ‘like’ on its own Instagram account saying she had “received the POPE’S OFFICIAL BLESSING”.
Vatican’s press office, said the Pope’s various social media accounts is managed by a team of people.
“We can exclude that the ‘like’ came from the Holy See, we solicit Instagram’s cooperation to determine the source.”
Pope Francis is hugely popular across social media, with his official Instagram account, which operates under the username franciscus, attracting 7.4 million followers. The account does not follow any other accounts.
On Twitter, the pope is followed by 18.8 million accounts. In 2017, he was the most popular world leader on the social media platform.
But he very rarely composes social media content himself.
“The pope is not like Donald Trump, he’s not sitting around using his phone or computer to tweet all day long,” said Robert Mickens, the Rome-based editor of the English-language edition of the Catholic daily newspaper La Croix.
“He does, for example, approve the tweets – but not the likes – and on very rare occasions he has said he would like to tweet something because of a developing situation or emergency. So he would have nothing to do with this – it’s the communications department, and how this happens … who knows?”