The Vatican said it was looking for explanations on Instagram after Pope Francis’ official account liked a photo of a scantily clad Brazilian model.
It is not clear when Natalia Gariboto’s photo was approved by the pope’s verified account, but the “likes” are still visible on November 13, before being canceled the next day, according to the Catholic News Agency (CNA).
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Gariboto, who has 2.4 million followers on Instagram, also jokes, “At least I’m going to heaven.”
Citing sources close to the Vatican’s press office, the CNA said an investigation was under way to find out how the photo was liked.
A team of people manages the Pope’s various social media accounts.
A Vatican spokesman told the Guardian: “We can rule out that ‘liking’ comes from the Holy See, and he turned to Instagram for explanations.”
Pope Francis is extremely popular on social media, with his official Instagram account, which runs under the username franciscus, attracting 7.4 million followers. The account does not follow other accounts.
On Twitter, the pope was followed by 18.8 million accounts. In 2017, he was the world’s most popular leader on the social media platform.
But he very rarely composes content on social networks himself.
“The pope is not like Donald Trump, he doesn’t sit around using his phone or computer to write all day,” said Robert Mykens, Rome-based editor of the English-language Catholic daily La Croix.
“For example, he approves of tweets – but not likes – and in very rare cases has said he would like to tweet something because of an evolving situation or an emergency. So it won’t have anything to do with it – it’s the communications department and how it happens … who knows. “