Fake Pope on Twitter dupes thousands of followers, says he’s loved more than Santa Claus

The PopeCardinal Jorge Bergoglio was only named as the new Pope in Rome’s St Peter’s Square a few hours ago, and already he’s making an impact on social media.

Hundreds of thousands of Twitter users, for instance, have started to follow @JMBergoglio, which purports to be the Twitter account of the Argentinian cardinal who has just landed the top job in the Roman Catholic church.

Indeed, every time I refresh my browser I see hundreds more people are choosing to follow the account.

Twitter account. But is it real?

But does the Twitter account really belong to the man who will be known as Pope Francis? As eagle-eyed journalists at The Slate report, if this really is a Twitter account belonging to the new Pope he has been posting some rather strange tweets in the past.

For instance,

An odd tweet for a future pope

“If I’m going to be the new pope, kids are going to love me more than Santa Claus”

There is a serious security-related side to this of course. No doubt some of the people following this account might believe that it really does belong to the new Pope. And if whoever runs the account had bad intentions they could easily attempt to spread spam or post malicious links to their huge, and newly-won, following.

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And, as we all know, cybercriminals love to take advantage of a hot news story to spread attacks and dupe people into clicking on links without thinking.

Those interested in following the Pope on Twitter might be wiser to follow the legitimate account – @Pontifex – which has just made its first tweet since Pope Francis’s election.


Or, if you’re interested in keeping up-to-date on security news, feel free to follow me at @gcluley. (Actually, if you like, feel free to follow both me and the Pope – it’s unlikely we’ll be covering the same subject matter very often. And – unlike him – my Latin is terrible)

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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