Twitter deletes Irish bishop’s tweet

An Irish Catholic bishop’s tweet about assisted suicide has been restored after Twitter deleted it.

Twitter said  the tweet was removed for “violating our rules against promoting or encouraging suicide or self-harm.”

In his 31 January 2021 tweet, Bishop Kevin Doran expressed opposition to efforts to legalize assisted suicide in Ireland.

“There is dignity in dying,” the Catholic bishop’s tweet said.

“As a priest, I am privileged to witness it often. Assisted suicide, where it is practiced, is not an expression of freedom or dignity, but of the failure of a society to accompany people on their ‘way of the cross.’”

Dolan included a link to a message on the Diocese of Elphin’s Facebook page. Doran has led the page since 2014.

The message invited healthcare professionals to add their names to a petition expressing concern about a bill to legalise physician-assisted suicide.

The Iona Institute, which is an advocacy group promoting the place of marriage and religion in society, reported on Monday that Twitter had censored Dolan’s post.

“Our support team has determined that a violation did take place, and therefore we will not overturn our decision,” the Institute reported Twitter as saying in justification.

The Institute noted that while Doran’s Twitter profile remained accessible, the tweet had been removed and he had been barred from posting.

Apparently a Twitter algorithm was behind the deletion.

“Although the intent of the post was the opposite of what Twitter claimed, upon appeal, the social media giant doubled down on its stance and said: ‘Our support team has determined that a violation did take place, and therefore we will not overturn our decision,’”.

David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute, says “Twitter rightly has algorithms which target tweets that seem to promote self-harm and obviously Bishop Doran’s message was badly misunderstood as he was doing the opposite.”

“What is remarkable, however, is that his [initial] appeal was turned down. I also wonder if the algorithms have ever done the same to someone who is pro-assisted suicide? They always use phrases such as ‘dying with dignity’ such as the one used by Bishop Doran.”

“Twitter is already strongly suspected of ideological bias and incidents like this do not help its reputation.”

A spokeswoman from the Elphin diocese says the tweet has now been restored. Dolan hs not commented about the incident.

Removing Dolan’s tweet is the latest in a series of incidents involving Catholics and Twitter.

Last October, Czech Cardinal Dominik Duka’s Twitter account was suspended without explanation.

After the account was restored, the Prague archbishop compared present-day censorship to communism suppression in the 1980s. Thisngs are “not much different” today, he said.

Last November, Twitter users criticized the company after a hashtag calling for Catholic priests to be burned was allowed to trend online in Spain.

Just last month, Twitter temporarily locked the Catholic World Report newspaper’s account over a post describing Biden appointee Dr. Rachel Levine as “a biological man who identifies as a transgender woman.”

A Twitter spokesperson later said that the account was blocked in error.



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