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Pope Gives New Meaning to 'Followers'

Pope Gives New Meaning to 'Followers'

Today in international tech news: Pope Benedict gives new meaning to the term "followers" and makes his first tweets. Also: John McAfee touches down in the U.S., Amazon launches some Kindle-related products -- but not the Kindle itself -- in China, and more.

By David Vranicar TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
12/13/12 5:13 PM PT

Pope Benedict XVI made his Twitter debut on Wednesday in front of a congregation of more than 1 million faithful.

Benedict has eight separate accounts to deliver messages in various languages, including Polish, Portuguese, Arabic and English, according to The Guardian.

His inaugural 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." One hundred forty characters on the dot.

The first tweet was reportedly sent out on an iPad 4 under the instruction of a priest.

Twitter, which has a department dedicated solely to getting high-profile people on Twitter, had reportedly courted the 85-year-old Benedict, going so far as to send a representative to Rome to prep the Vatican, The Guardian reported.

The papal account will now be turned over to Vatican staff, but they insist that they will channel Benedict with the account's messages.

McAfee Back in the US

John McAfee, an American made famous for his antivirus software but now the focal point of a South American murder investigation, is back in the U.S.

McAfee arrived in Miami Wednesday evening, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was escorted away from the public by federal authorities.

Officials in Belize, where McAfee moved in 2008, had sought to question him regarding the recent shooting death of his neighbor, American expatriate Gregory Faull. McAfee then fled to Guatemala, where he his asylum request was rejected; he was detained for entering the country illegally. Speaking from Guatemala earlier this week, he said he was eager to return to the U.S.

McAfee has taken to posting updates about status on his website.

Amazon Launches E-Bookstore in China

Amazon's e-bookstore and Kindle smartphone apps are now available in China, although the company hasn't yet launched the fully supported Kindle.

The Chinese Kindle Store and the Android, iPhone and iPad versions of the Kindle reading app are now available in China, according to The Next Web.

The apps are the same ones available outside China, Tech In Asia points out, "not some fenced-off made-for-China" replacements.

China Snoops on Skype Conference Calls

China has for years been monitoring and listening to Skype calls in the country, and Skype has not really been saying much about it.

Skype has a minute disclaimer in its privacy policy saying it "may provide personal data, communications content and/or traffic data" to authorities, GreatFire.org notes.

By using Skype, users thereby confirm their consent -- although this is, according to GreatFire, lost on not a few Skype users.

In China, Skype collaborates with Tom Online, a Chinese mobile Internet company. Because Tom Online is a Chinese company, it is compelled to store communications data and to fork it over if authorities request it, says Great Fire.

GreatFire goes on to detail tests it conducted looking at which IP addresses Skype connects with when users make a call.


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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