Social media fan Pope Francis already tweets and may soon start posting on Instagram, too. Italian newswire ANSA reports that the pontiff will make his Instagram debut on March 19 using the account name Franciscus, citing a Vatican Radio interview with Holy See spokesman Dario Viganò.
Pope Francis, who has extolled the ability of the Internet “to build a society which is healthy and open to sharing,” held a private audience with Instagram founder and chief executive officer Kevin Systrom last month (he’s also had meetings with other tech execs like Eric Schmidt and Tim Cook).
Media reports don’t say if the two discussed setting up an official papal photo-sharing account, but they did talk about the power of images to bring people together across social boundaries, according to Systrom’s Instagram.
The Vatican already has a verified Instagram with about 78,900 followers. If Pope Francis does indeed launch his own account, it might help stem the flood of pretenders posing as His Holiness on the photo-sharing network, including at least two that claim to be “official,” and ward off selfie fakers. The pope’s Twitter page, which launched in 2012, currently has 8.87 million followers.
TechCrunch has emailed the Holy See and Instagram for more information.