Pope praises social networks

Pope Benedict gave a qualified blessing to social networking yesterday, praising its potential but warning that online friendships are no substitute for real human contact.

The 83-year-old pontiff, who does not have his own Facebook account, set out his views in a message titled "Truth, proclamation and authenticity of life in the digital age".

He said the possibilities of new media and social networks offered "a great opportunity", but warned of the risks of alienation in having more virtual friends than real ones.

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