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Viral Pope Election Photos Tweeted By NBC News Are Misleading (PHOTOS)

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A photo tweeted by NBC News comparing pilgrims in St. Peter's Square in 2005 and 2013 is going viral on social media.

The image composite shows a crowd lit up like a Christmas tree with smartphone, tablet and camera screens. The 2005 photo has only a mere spattering of flip-phone screens:


NBC News
What a difference 8 years makes. St. Peter's Square in 2005 vs. 2013.

"What a difference 8 years makes," the tweet says.

pope nbc photos

Although it's true that we're all carrying a lot more technology in our pockets than we did in 2005, the photos are a bit misleading.

The bottom photo is indeed the crowd watching as the new Pope Francis speaks to St. Peter's Square for the first time after he was elected on Wednesday. The top photo, however, is not from Pope Benedict XVI's election, but rather from shortly after Pope John Paul II's death when his body was carried across the square and into the Basilica for public viewing.

Here's the original photo and Associated Press caption:
john paul ii death
People fill Via Della Conciliazione boulevard about 950 meters (2900 feet) away from the facade of St. Peter's Basilica after Pope John Paul II's body was carried across the square into the Basilica for public viewing, at the Vatican Monday, April 4, 2005. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Another tip-off is the fact that after Pope Benedict XVI won the papacy on April 19, 2005, he addressed the Square during daylight hours. However, it is true that a crowd of Catholics greeting a new Pope meant a lot fewer iPads waving around. See some photos from Benedict XVI's introduction as pope below.

benedict elected

benedict elected

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