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Pope Francis Joins Instagram

Update at 7 a.m. Sunday: The pope now has more than a million followers. He hit the million mark after 12 hours, making his the fastest-growing Instagram account ever, according to the company.

Our previous post continues:

One photo, 145,000 followers (from when we first published) ... and counting.

Pope Francis joined Instagram Saturday, launching his account on the photo-based social media site with an image of him, head bowed, and a multi-lingual caption asking followers to pray for him.

The Vatican announced the pope's Instagram debut in advance, noting that the pontiff has more than 25 million followers on Twitter (across accounts tweeting in several languages)and suggesting that photographs on Instagram will "help recount the Papacy through images."

The Pope's English-language Twitter account also marked the occasion. The pope tweeted: "I am beginning a new journey, on Instagram, to walk with you along the path of mercy and the tenderness of God."

The pontiff does not personally manage his Twitter accounts, and he is unlikely to be snapping selfies for the Instagram, either: the social media department of the Vatican's Secretariat for Communications will be handling the account. Instead of the pope trying out filters, it'll be staffers sorting through images from the professional photographers who work for the Vatican's daily newspaper.

But it does look like the pope may have personally hit "share" for his first photo. A video posted by Kevin Systrom, the co-founder and CEO of Instagram, shows the pope gazing down at a tablet before giving it a firm press.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.

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