On Monday night, Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) was suspended from Twitter after posting a photo of himself and his wife. Senator Daines is now standing by the photo as #FreeSteveDaines began to gain popularity among conservatives on social media.
Daines spoke to Fox News on Tuesday, joking, “My wife is a great shot. What can I say?”
The move prompted significant pushback from conservative voices across the nation, including other members of Congress who say 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-TX) wrote in a post using the #FreeSteveDaines tag.
“@SteveDaines told me he was aiming for the balloon, but hit an antelope instead,” Cruz joked in another tweet.
Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) defended his fellow Montanan, congratulating the senator’s wife on a “great shot.”
“This is the family photo that got @SteveDaines put in twitter jail. Stop censoring our Montana way of life! Great shot, Cindy!” Zinke wrote.
Less than a day later, Daines’ account was reinstated, prompting the senator to thank Elon Musk for recognizing that his photo was very similar to other hunting pictures that many Americans post regularly without issue.
“I am grateful that Elon Musk reached out to me to resolve this issue and am glad that he recognizes that free speech is a bedrock of our country,” Daines said in a statement after his account was reinstated. He added that hunting is “our Montana way of life and we are proud of it. I am glad Elon Musk recognizes this,”
Musk had previously stated that the issue was being fixed, after receiving pushback from conservative voices for the ban.
“This is being fixed. Policy against showing blood in profile pic is being amended to ‘clearly showing blood without clicking on the profile pic’. The intent is to avoid people being forced to see gruesome profile pics,” he wrote in a Twitter post.
Twitter’s sensitive media policy states that certain images may be subject to removal, including a picture or a video “that depicts excessively graphic or gruesome content related to death,” including “animal torture or killing.” It adds that exceptions to the policy may include “religious sacrifice, food preparation or processing, and hunting.”
In light of the incident, Musk later tweeted out an update to the way he intends to run the platform.
“Going forward, Twitter will be broadly accepting of different values, rather than trying to impose its own specific values on the world,” Musk tweeted.
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