Daines Twitter account has been restored, and the senator has posted a statement to his account thanking Elon Musk, who he says “reached out to me to resolve the issue”.
My full statement on my Twitter suspension and reinstatement here: pic.twitter.com/TvgyMd8yeX
— Steve Daines (@SteveDaines) February 7, 2023
Daines went on to say that the “initial ban over the profile photo of my wife and me after a successful Montana antelope hunt was disappointing given the fact that it is no different than photos that Montanans share on social media every day,” and Musk himself seemed to offer his take on the takedown a couple of hours before the senator’s account was restored.
Going forward, Twitter will be broadly accepting of different values, rather than trying to impose its own specific values on the world
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 7, 2023
Sounds like good news, and hopefully suspensions like this are now a thing of the past.
***Original report below***
We’ll see how long this suspension lasts once Elon Musk get involved, but as of Tuesday morning U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-Montana) is locked out of his Twitter account after it was suspended; apparently for violating the social media company’s policy on “graphic violence or adult content” in his profile picture.
What dastardly image was Daines displaying that got him in trouble? Well, it looks like a picture of the senator and his wife posing with an antelope.
The account was suspended, according to Twitter, because his profile pic showed him hunting with his wife. pic.twitter.com/YrpeoCf4gI
— Josh Kraushaar (@JoshKraushaar) February 7, 2023
The specific policy cited by Twitter says that the company considers “graphic violence to be any form of gory media related to death, serious injury, violence or surgical procedures,” but the pic with Daines, his wife, and the antelope she bagged isn’t “gory” in the slightest. In fact, there’s no blood visible in the picture at all. Still, other Twitter users say the same thing has happened to them when they’ve posted pics of their hunting adventures.
Same thing happened to me when I used a picture of me with my elk.
— Steven (@McBaine146) February 7, 2023
There are plenty of theories offered by Twitter users responding to Kraushaar’s thread as to why Daines’ account was suspended, though some of them appear to be more reasonable than others. I doubt this was a case of Commie infiltrators subverting Musk’s platform by suspending the account, for instance. The idea that animal rights activists may have reported Daines’ account and the company’s automated moderation ended up suspending him sounds a little more plausible, but you’d think that there’d be a human involved in that decision at some point, especially given that we’re talking about the account of a public official.
Whatever the reason, the decision was simply absurd, as Daines himself said on Tuesday.
“My wife is a great shot. What can I say?” Daines told Fox News Digital.
“The Senator thinks it’s preposterous that a picture of him and his wife hunting — an activity that is engrained in the Montana way of life — would be against Twitter rules. Our team has reached out to Twitter, and we’ll be working to get this resolved,” Rachel Dumke, press secretary for Daines, said in a statement to Fox News Digital.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which Daines leads as chairman, released a statement blasting the move by Twitter.
“This is insane. Twitter should immediately reverse this suspension,” said NRSC spokesman Philip Letsou.
Other members of Congress are speaking out against Twitter’s actions, saying the platform should not censor individuals just because they don’t agree with a post.
“Ridiculous. My friend @SteveDaines is in @Twitter jail for posting this pic w/ his wife Cindy. If you don’t like hunting, fine, don’t go. But don’t censor others who disagree. And I’m pretty sure this is a formal job responsibility for a senator from Montana!” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas., wrote in a post using the #FreeSteveDaines tag.
So far neither Musk nor Twitter has explained how, exactly, Daines’ account was suspended, but restoring his access should be easy enough to fix. Musk needs to go further, however, and ensure that Twitter’s policy on “graphic violence” doesn’t ensnare lawful hunters going forward so this doesn’t happen again. Whether you like hunting or hate it, Musk’s championing of free speech should at least apply to the tens of millions of Americans who participate in that activity, particularly when the images they post aren’t violent or “gory” at all.