Micro-blogging service Twitter struggles with corporate and celebrity users who refuse to follow industry standards for social media engagement. Case in point: Twitter user @Pontifex, apparently an elderly World War II veteran with an inexplicably large online following, has outraged millions of Twitter users by refusing to follow anyone but his own duplicate accounts. The rudeness reached such a point today that the end-user has finally given in to intense pressure to retire his Twitter accounts and also give up his job leading a global pedophilia ring headquartered in a European castle.
But there is a #fail even with this alleged cessation of the @Pontifex Twitter account, which was widely reported to be shutting down today with the removal of the account owner, Joseph Ratzinger of Bavaria. The board of directors at Ratzinger’s organization now claims the account will not be shut down, and that Ratzinger’s successor may wind up using it for whatever purposes. Social media engagement experts say that while it is extremely unprofessional to lie about shutting down a Twitter account, it is also questionable practice to abandon more than 2 million Twitter followers.
Monsignor Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, confirmed in an email that the account will hibernate, not close, until the new pope is chosen. “During the period between today and the election of new pope the account will be inactive,” he wrote, “not shut down.”
It will then be up to the new pope to decide whether or not to keep the account running. “Obviously we leave all decisions to the new man,” wrote Tighe. “But we would hope that he might continue to use @Pontifex, which would maintain continuity.”
Technology journalists note that it costs about $5 for 20,000 followers, so Ratzinger’s organization may have spent as much as $125 to collect the 2.5 million Twitter followers of the @Pontifex account, if the followers were indeed purchased.
Twitter is headquartered in San Francisco and reported earnings of $259.9 million in calendar year 2012.
UPDATE: The Vatican has now deleted all the ex-pope’s tweets. This is the modern version of crucifying somebody upside down, which is how the first pope (St. Peter) was dismissed of His duties.