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#Pontiff-Ex: The Twitter Community's Reaction to the Papal Resignation (AoIR 2013)

AoIR 2013

#Pontiff-Ex: The Twitter Community’s Reaction to the Papal Resignation

Theresa Sauter and Axel Bruns

In this paper, we provide an account-centric analysis of the tweeting activity of, and public response to, Pope Benedict XVI via the @pontifex Twitter account(s). We focus our investigation on the particular phase around Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation to generate insights into the use of Twitter in response to a celebrity crisis event. Through a combined qualitative and quantitative methodological approach we generate an overview of the follower-base and tweeting activity of the @pontifex account. We identify a very one-directional communication pattern (many @mentions by followers yet zero @replies from the papal account itself), which prompts us to enquire further into what the public resonance of the @pontifex account is. We also examine reactions to the resurrection of the papal Twitter account by Pope Benedict XVI’s successor. In this way, we provide a comprehensive analysis of the public response to the immediate events around the crisis event of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation and its aftermath via the network of users involved in the @pontifex account.