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Snapchat Rolls Out Global Live News Story as Pope Francis Visits Philadelphia

Diane Montagna - published on 09/26/15

Snapchat is feeling the "Francis effect"

PHILADELPHIA — An estimated 400 million Snapchat users around the world will have the unique opportunity to watch Pope Francis inspire countless people during his visit to Philadelphia this Saturday and Sunday, September 26-27.

Aleteia US is collaborating with Snapchat to help make possible the first-ever global live news story on the Pope, as he journeys to the city of brotherly love for the 2015 World Meeting of Families “Festival of Families,” a visit to Independence Hall, and the Sunday celebration of the Holy Mass.

Snapchat began collecting ‘Snaps’ at 10:00 am on Saturday morning and rolled out the new global live news story on Saturday evening at 6:20 pm, as Pope Francis made his way from Independence Hall to the Festival of Families. The Snapchat global live story is called “The Pope Is Here!”

Snapchat story image

Snapchat and the “Francis effect”

Snapchat recognized the importance of Pope Francis’ visit months ago. They put the papal story on the calendar back in July and anticipate that this could be one of their largest global stories.

Snapchat is a video-messaging application that allows users to take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. These sent photographs and videos are known as “Snaps”.

Snapchat ‘stories’ are compiled from video content sent to Snapchat by users based on their geo-location. The Snapchat team curates these videos and photos and produces a live story about the event that develops and unfolds over 24 hours.

Millennials find it an appealing form of social media because it allows them to be creative through the filters, comments, and the use of emojis and drawing features.

Snapchat screen

Some say the Snapchat global papal news story is a true sign of the “Francis effect” breaking into youth culture.

Pope Francis has touched the hearts of youth throughout his six-day trip. On Friday, he spent a joyful afternoon in the classroom with students of Our Lady of the Angels School in Harlem, where he told them to “keep smiling and help bring joy to everyone you meet”. And earlier this week, he told young people in Cuba to “have the courage to be truly happy.”

One millennial told Aleteia that the Pope’s simple message “resonates so deeply with young people because he is calling us to service, to address the issues of poverty and refugees, and all the issues that are very much a part of our lives, but at the same time he is telling us we need to be joyful and happy and live fulfilling lives.”

“Putting those two things together is very powerful,” she said.

Snapchat and Pope Francis: sparking a movement

The Snapchat news story grew out of the “Good is Winning” social media movement, which geared up earlier this year in preparation for Pope Francis’ visit, to help young people to see and share on social media the good happening around them: acts of mercy, kindness, courage and dignity in everyday life. The movement also aims at having young people’s voices be heard around Pope Francis’ visit and elevating their conversation on social media.

A digital street team has been assembled to take to the streets of downtown Philadelphia during the Pope’s visit. Twenty young people from all over the US will be capturing stories of #goodiswinnin, and the emotion behind the Pope’s visit. The DST will share these stories on various social platforms, including Snapchat.

Eighteen-year-old Cassie Sadi from Montgomery, Alabama — winner of the “Good Is Winning” social media competition and member of the digital street team — describes the Pope Francis Snapchat global live story as “something so new” she “never imagined it would happen”, but she believes it has the potential to “spark a movement”.

“This Pope has brought so much hope to so many people. I think that, through the Snapchat story, he is going to inspire so many people as he’s inspired all of us. People are going to watch it, because people watch the stories.”

Snapchat users can add the account by this QAR code:


Follow the digital street team on snapchat at: popeishopeus.

Diane Montagnais Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.

Pope Francis USA
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