Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) was locked out of his Twitter account after he changed his profile photo to an image of a hunting trip with his wife.
The post violated Twitter rules against “graphic violence or adult content in profile images,” according to a notice from the social media company shared by Daines spokeswoman Rachel Dumke. “We consider graphic violence to be any form of gory media related to death, serious injury, violence, or surgical procedures,” the notice continued.
.@SteveDaines’ twitter account was locked last night for displaying “graphic violence” in his profile picture.
Because going hunting with your wife is apparently against @Twitter rules now.
What a joke. pic.twitter.com/gy4XIu3cv0
— Rachel Dumke (@RachelDumke9) February 7, 2023
Daines was told that he must delete the profile photo in order to unlock his account.
“This is insane. Twitter should immediately reverse this suspension,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Philip Letsou said in a statement provided to The Daily Wire.
Other lawmakers blasted the social media company for the decision. “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-TX) reacted. “Stop censoring our Montana way of life! Great shot, Cindy!” Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) added.
Elon Musk purchased Twitter last year for $44 billion in a move he said was intended to restore free speech to the platform. The world’s second-richest man initially told advertisers that he acquired the company to “have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence.” He vowed that the social media platform would not become a “free-for-all hellscape” where users could breach the law with impunity.
Though a number of conservative accounts have been welcomed back to the platform since Musk took over, including those belonging to DailyWire+ host Jordan Peterson and Christian satire site The Babylon Bee, various censorship actions appear to have persisted.
Journalism nonprofit Project Veritas was “wrongfully locked out” of Twitter for nearly two hours after posting a sting video showing a Pfizer official admitting that the company is not entirely sure why their vaccines are impacting women’s menstrual cycles. The ban was induced by the organization sharing footage from one of their reporters confronting YouTube Vice President of Global Trust and Safety Matt Halprin on why the company censored the sting.
The suspension of Daines comes before lawmakers plan to question Twitter executives dismissed by Musk, including former Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde, former Deputy General Counsel James Baker, and former Global Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth, about their moves to suppress information that may have impacted the outcome of the 2020 election. Lawmakers were especially concerned by the censorship of The New York Post story released shortly before the election which showed that Hunter Biden, the son of soon-to-be President Joe Biden, introduced his father to a Ukrainian businessman.
“Big Tech and the Swamp colluded to censor reporting about the Biden family’s shady business schemes,” House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) said in a press release. “We also know members of Twitter’s top censorship team debated how they could justify limiting the spread of the story. They landed on a policy that even some among them doubted.”