Pope Francis is the most-followed world leader on Twitter—but Trump is closing in.

Watch out Pope Francis, President Trump is coming for you—at least in terms of popularity on Twitter.

The pope is currently the most-followed global leader on the social networking platform, with close to 34 million followers spread across nine language accounts, according to analysis from Twiplomacy, a group that tracks the social media use of world leaders. Mr. Trump comes in a fairly close second, with about 30 million followers.

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But the gap between the two men is shrinking fast.

Watch out Pope Francis, President Trump is coming for you—at least in terms of popularity on Twitter.

Mr. Trump, one of just a handful of world leaders to manage a robust personal Twitter account, has grown his account by about 5 percent each month since his January inauguration. If he maintains that pace, he will overtake the pope by the end of August, the report says.

Pope Francis, whose tweets are often taken from his remarks or statements, became the most followed world leader after former President Barack Obama left office. Mr. Obama, a relatively early adopter of Twitter among political leaders, had close to 80 million followers before he departed the White House.

When it comes to Twitter influence, measured in likes and shares, the report slices the data in a couple different ways.

In terms of volume, Mr. Trump’s tweets over the past 12 months earned far more likes and shares than the pope—Mr. Trump’s tweets garnered 160 million likes and shares to the pope’s 12 million.

But the president tweets far more often than the pope, who usually sends just a few messages each week. Mr. Trump, on the other hand, often publishes several tweets in rapid succession, often early in the morning.

That means the men are essentially tied when it comes to the rate at which their followers share their tweets. (Both men fall well behind King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who has about six million followers but whose tweets usually generate close to 150,000 re-tweets, far outpacing Mr. Trump’s 13,000 re-tweets and the 10,000 for the pope’s Spanish-language account.)

Mr. Trump’s tweets garnered 160 million likes and shares to the pope’s 12 million.

The president’s tweets routinely attract global media attention, a phenomenon on full display earlier this week when Mr. Trump published a late-night tweet that contained a fragment with a strange typo. The tweet, which remained on his personal account for several hours before being deleted, contained the letters “covfefe,” which became the most talked about subject on Twitter for several hours.

Pope Francis held the title of Twiplomacy’s most influential global Tweeter in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Last year, Mr. Obama took the top spot, with Mr. Trump coming in third and Pope Francis fourth. This year, the organization broke up the category into “most engaged,” with Mr. Trump being ranked first and Pope Francis fourth, and “most effective,” which placed King Salman first, Mr. Trump second and Pope Francis third.

Mr. Trump has tweeted about the pope a handful of times, including last year when he called the pope “disgraceful” after interpreting remarks Francis made about border walls as a personal attack.

The pope, meanwhile, has never mentioned Mr. Trump on Twitter. But the report notes, “Pope Francis’s two most popular tweets are clear references to Donald Trump’s policies without mentioning the U.S. President.”

Pope Francis and Mr. Trump met in Rome last month, and the pair discussed issues on which the Vatican and the United States might collaborate, including efforts to end Christian persecution in the Middle East and curbing human trafficking. (The Vatican’s statement said church leaders also discussed immigration with Mr. Trump, although the White House statement did not include the topic in its own statement.)

Their differences aside, Mr. Trump offered his own thoughts on the meeting. His method of communication? Twitter, of course.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Lisa Weber
2 years 10 months ago

Popularity on Twitter is hardly a good way to evaluate the worth of someone's thoughts. Pope Francis is a wise and admired world leader. Donald Trump is an abominable man with a talent for publicity. Twitter only adds up numbers, it does not evaluate content.

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