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Pope Francis 'beats Obama, Snowden in global Web hits'

But Berlusconi pips pontiff in Italy

28 January, 13:21
Pope Francis 'beats Obama, Snowden in global Web hits' (ANSA) - Rome, January 28 - Pope Francis beat United States President Barack Obama and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in global Google searches last year, according to a survey for an Italian Catholic association released Tuesday.

Francis, whose popularity has surged thanks to his common touch and reforms since his election in March and was named Time's Person of the Year, was also top in the number of Web hits, ahead of the US President and Russian President Vladimir Putin, said the 3rdPlace survey for

The Argentine pontiff clocked up more than 1.737 million monthly Google searches and was mentioned over 49 million times on the Web, the study said.

Francis's popularity was "surprising" among the young people he is reaching out to as well as migrants and poor, Aleteia said.

In Italy Francis beat out all showbiz stars and other youth idols, while on the world stage he was only pipped by Justin Bieber and One Direction.

Also on his adopted home turf, the charismatic pope was beaten to top Google spot by anti-establishment comedian-turned politician Beppe Grillo.

Unsinkable conservative leader Silvio Berlusconi topped the Italian rankings for Internet mentions, just ahead of Francis.