March 13, 2013 at 8:20 PM ET
Twitter Wednesday suspended the account of an Argentinian using the name of the new pope, although the account — a fake — appears to have been active since last summer, long before Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was named Pope Francis.
Once white smoke appeared and the news was official about the new pontiff, some started retweeting the @JMBergoglio account as the place to congratulate him.
The Twitter page mirrored Pope Francis' newfound fame: Within an hour or so of the new pope being named, we noticed the @JMBergoglio account had about 65,000 followers. By the time the account was suspended, it had nearly 132,000.
But visitors who paid attention (and could read Spanish) would have noticed that among the 300 or more tweets were messages of humor and protest, hardly what you'd expect from a powerful clergyman, let alone a newly elected pontiff:
"If I'm the new pope, children will love me more than Santa Claus," read one joking tweet.
Another, more serious, said: "Only the church must protect these children, hug them, pamper them, give them warmth, love them, give them ... eh eh # NoALaAdopciónEntreHomosexuales." In addition to protests like this against the anti-gay position of the Catholic Church, the @JMBergoglio account contained re-tweets of articles about child abuse cases involving clergy. The tone of most re-tweets appeared to have been decidedly anti-Bergoglio.
Whether protest or parody (or both), the account named after the former cardinal from Argentina apparently breaks the Twitter rule prohibiting accounts that impersonate others.
"You may not impersonate others through the Twitter service in a manner that does or is intended to mislead, confuse, or deceive others," the social media site says in its rules. While it's debatable that the early followers of @JMBergoglio believed they were following the cardinal, the surge of newcomers — and the lack of any kind of "parody" label — likely gave more reason for concern.
"To the best of our knowledge, it is not his (the pope's) personal account," Twitter spokesperson Elaine Filadelfo told the Poynter Institute in an email about why the account was suspended.
NBC News has contacted Twitter for comment, and will update this piece when we hear back.