The Pope Has One Million Twitter Followers
Are You a Second Screen User?
Television viewers were once called couch potatoes. Many are becoming more active while watching now, judging by the findings in a new report that illustrates the explosive growth in people who watch TV while connected to social media on smartphones and tablets.
The Nielsen company said that one in three people using Twitter in June sent messages at some point about the content of television shows, an increase of 27 percent from only five months earlier.
And that was before the Olympics, which was probably the first big event to illustrate the extent of second screen usage.
“Twitter has become the second screen experience for television,” said Deirdre Bannon, vice president of social media at Nielsen.
Social networking is becoming so pervasive that the study found nearly a third of people aged 18-to-24 reported using the sites while in the bathroom.
An estimated 41 percent of tablet owners and 38 percent of smartphone owners used their device while also watching television at least once a day, Nielsen said.
That percentage hasn’t changed much; in fact, 40 percent of smartphone owners reported daily dual screen usage a year earlier, Nielsen said. The difference is that far more people own these devices, and they are using them for a longer period of time.
The company estimated that Americans spent a total of 157.5 billion minutes on mobile devices in July 2012, nearly doubling the 81.8 billion the same month a year earlier.
“There are big and interesting implications,” Bannon said. “I think both television networks and advertisers are onto it.”
The social media can provide networks with real-time feedback on what they are doing. The performance of moderators at presidential debates this fall was watched more closely than perhaps ever before, because people were instantly taking on Twitter to provide their own critiques.
The U.S. media survey is based on a representative sample of 1,998 adults in Nielsen’s regular TV ratings panel, conducted online between July 19 and Aug. 8.
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI hit the 1 million Twitter follower mark on Wednesday as he sent his first tweet from his new account, blessing his online fans and urging them to listen to Christ.
In perhaps the most drawn out Twitter launch ever, the 85-year-old Benedict tapped the screen of a tablet brought to him at the end of his general audience after the equivalent of a papal drum roll by an announcer who intoned: "And now the pope will tweet!"
"Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart," the inaugural tweet read.
At around the same time the message was sent, the number of followers of Benedict's (at)Pontifex accounts surpassed the 1 million mark, with all eight languages of the pope's account combined.
While the (at)Pontifex English account remains the most popular, nearing 800,000 followers, the pope is tweeting simultaneously in Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, German, Polish and Arabic. Each language has its own handle, though they're all the pope's account: (at)Pontifex-es, for Spanish for example, (at)Pontifex-it for Italian, (at)Pontifex-fr for French, and so on.
The first papal tweet has been the subject of intense curiosity - as well as merciless jokes, criticism and commentary. "The pope has an iPad?" comedian Jon Stewart asked earlier this year. The Onion satirical newspaper ran a piece "Pope tweets picture of self with God." And in perhaps a more long-term and problematic issue for the Vatican, the (at)Pontifex handle was flooded with negative messages from users remarking on the clerical sex abuse scandal.
Vatican officials have said they expected such negativity, but that is a risk they take by putting the Catholic Church's message out.
"These are already all over the Internet, in newspapers, in so many forms of expression," the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, editor of the Jesuit magazine "Civilta Cattolica," told Vatican Radio this week. "They form part of ordinary communication."
Benedict actually sent his first tweet over a year ago, using a generic Vatican account to launch the Holy See's news information portal. Someone in his name tweeted daily during Lent, part of the Vatican's efforts to increase the church presence in social media.
A personal Twitter account for Benedict has been the subject of speculation ever since the Vatican's senior communications official said in February the idea was gaining traction.
Vatican officials have acknowledged the pope won't actually type the messages and that someone in the Vatican's secretariat of state will write them on his behalf. And so it happened on Wednesday: Benedict just tapped the screen on the tablet to send the inaugural tweet.
But about an hour later, a Vatican official tweeted a question that had been sent to the pope in the long run-up to the launch, asking his advice about how to be more faithful in daily life. "By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need," the responding tweet read.
Later still, a third tweet, responding to a question about how faith can be lived in a world without hope: "We can be certain that a believer is never alone. God is the solid rock upon which we build our lives and his love is always faithful," it said.
The Vatican has insisted that the words are Benedict's alone, culled from his speeches, homilies or catechism lessons.
As incongruous as it may seem for Benedict to be on Twitter, Vatican officials have stressed that he is merely walking in the footsteps of his predecessors in using the latest in communications technology to spread the faith.
Pope Pius XI, for example, caused a similar stir when he launched Vatican Radio some 80 years ago to bring the pope's message on radio waves around the globe. The Vatican also has its own newspaper, television service and maintains dedicated YouTube channels and an Internet news portal.