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Black bishop, suspended for ‘hateful conduct,’ is reinstated by Twitter

Bishop Talbert Swan, who has more than 75,000 followers, said he doesn’t plan to change the nature of his tweets but will avoid using a particular term in the future.

Bishop Talbert Swan, the leader of the Church of God in Christ’s Nova Scotia jurisdiction, addresses a summit of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 21, 2018. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

NOTE: This story includes a term that may be considered offensive.

(RNS) — Twitter has restored the account of an African-American bishop of the Church of God in Christ that was suspended after he used a racially sensitive term.

Bishop Talbert Swan, the pastor of a church in Springfield, Mass., and the president of the local chapter of the NAACP, said he believes his account was restored on Tuesday (Sept. 4), after he deleted a tweet that included the word “coon.”

The website says that term is sometimes used as an insult about a black person. But Swan said the meaning of the word depends on the context and in this instance referred to “a sellout or someone who is speaking or doing things that is not in the best interest of the African-American community.”

On June 2, Swan tweeted in response to a suggestion that he follow someone with whom he disagreed, “No thanks I’m on a no coon diet.”

Swan, who is also the leader of the Church of God in Christ’s Nova Scotia jurisdiction, told Religion News Service he was glad to have regained access to his account. Initially he believed he had been suspended permanently after receiving an email from Twitter that said, “Your account has been suspended and will not be restored,” and that cited “hateful conduct” as the reason.

“I do not plan on changing the nature of what I tweet about based on the suspension,” said Swan, who has more than 75,000 Twitter followers. “I will avoid that particular term, however I am not convinced that was the totality of why the decision was made.”

Swan further claimed, however, that his account is being “shadowbanned” because some people cannot see activity on his account. Twitter, which has been accused by President Trump of shadow banning some accounts, has denied it engages in such a practice.

A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment on the specifics of Swan’s account. But Twitter’s rules note that one form of enforcement is “requiring you to delete prohibited content before you can again create new posts and interact with other Twitter users.”

RELATED: Black bishop says Twitter suspended him for ‘hateful conduct’

In late August, at least half a dozen Twitter users noted that they had reported Swan and posted screenshots of responses they had received confirming that @TalbertSwan had violated Twitter’s rules of discourse.

The bishop, who has frequently used Twitter to criticize Trump, said he first got wind of the suspension from those posts by people he called “my detractors.” Several of those Twitters users describe themselves on the social media platform as Trump supporters.

Swan said Wednesday that he thinks his suspension ended up not being permanent due to requests sent to Twitter and its CEO, Jack Dorsey.

“I believe it was temporary because of the outcry of thousands of Twitter users on my behalf,” Swan said.

With the suspension lifted, the bishop used his account to speak to people who did and did not support his presence on Twitter.

“To the thousands who tweeted to Jack & Twitter, signed a petition, emailed, telephoned or did anything to advocate on my behalf, THANK YOU! You guys are the best followers on Twitter! Love you guys!” Swan tweeted. “To the haters, MAGAts & bigots who reveled in my suspension…I’M BACK!!”