Twitter Suspends Montana Senator’s Account Because He Posted Hunting Photo

Even though Elon Musk purchased Twitter, that doesn't mean those who work for him follow the new regime's policies. That was apparent when Montana Sen. Steve Daines' Twitter account was briefly suspended for posting a hunting photo. His account was reinstated a few hours later.

Mark Heinz

February 07, 20234 min read

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A Montana U.S. senator’s Twitter ordeal over a pronghorn hunting photo he posted on his Twitter account serves as a reminder of the pitfalls that social media outlets hold for hunters, some Wyoming outdoorsmen said. 

“You can’t deny that the woke culture is organized and strategic, looking to ruin and shame,” Josh Coursey, the president and CEO of the Muley Fanatic Foundation, told Cowboy State daily. 

Coursey added that’s one reason why he avoids social media altogether. 

‘Graphic Or Gruesome Content’

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana, had his Twitter account suspended, then reinstated a few hours later Tuesday after he posted a photo of himself and his wife Cindy posing next to a large pronghorn buck they killed during a recent hunt. 

There’s no blood or gore readily visible in the photo and it looks like a typical hunting photo that many in Wyoming, Montana and similar states are used to seeing. 

Nevertheless, Daines’ account was suspended for supposedly violating Twitter’s policy against “graphic or gruesome content” related to death and/or the killing and torture of animals, according to news reports.

Hunters Must Be Aware

Jaden Bales told Cowboy State Daily that he frequently uses social media as the communications director of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation (WWF).

He said he’s mindful of how hunting-related content might offend a wider audience. 

“I am so cautious about what we (WWF) post on social media,” he said. “At the end of the day, are you trying to be right or are you trying to make an impact with your message?”

The temporary suspension of Daines’ Twitter account “is not surprising, if you look at where these companies are based and where they’re from,” he said. 

Hunters can’t take for granted that their content, particularly posts depicting dead animals, will be platformed or well-received, Bales said. 

“I think we forgot along the way that these are publicly traded companies,” he said. “These companies are not beholden to users to always platform their posts.”

Even Major Influencers Affected 

Even hunting celebrities can’t escape the sensitivities of the wider public, Bales said. For instance, YouTube won’t monetize hunting-related content. 

“The Randy Newbergs of the world don’t get paid for the ads that run against their YouTube content,” he said. 

He was referring to avid hunter and Montana resident Randy Newberg, who is well known in outdoors circles for his slickly produced hunting shows, many episodes of which are available on YouTube.

Personal Attention From Musk

In a Tuesday statement, Daines said Elon Musk, who owns Twitter, contacted him personally and saw to it his account was restored.

“I am grateful 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 says in the statement.

He said Musk “acted quickly to reinstate my Twitter account after being made aware of its suspension.”

Daines went on to say that the hunting photo wasn’t offensive in any way and was “no different than photos Montanans share on social media every day. It’s our Montana way of life and we are proud of it.”

Where To Go?

Coursey reiterated his stance that avoiding social media, and keeping his hunting memories to himself and those close to him, is his chosen path for avoiding controversies.

“I have zero interest in being a social media user of any platform,” he said. “I live by the saying, ‘If it ain’t breaking my leg or picking my pocket, then it ain’t none of my business.’”

Bales said hunters and wildlife conservation groups should always be mindful of how the general public might react to their content on open platforms. 

He also recommended hunter-specific platforms, such as GoWild, for hunters who want to share stories and advice. 

Times aren’t as simple as they used to be, he added. 

“I sometimes want to go back to the days when our exchange of information and photos as hunters was on a tack board at the local grocery story or gas station,” Bales said. “That was great to just be able to walk in there, look at the board and see how everybody’s hunting season was going.”

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter