Twitter Temporarily Suspends Sen. Steve Daines' Account Over Hunting Photo

Elon Musk, the social network's owner, says Twitter is tweaking a policy against showing blood in profile pictures.

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Queenie Wong was a senior writer for CNET News, focusing on social media companies including Facebook's parent company Meta, Twitter and TikTok. Before joining CNET, she worked for The Mercury News in San Jose and the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. A native of Southern California, she took her first journalism class in middle school.
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Queenie Wong
2 min read
Sen. Steve Daines, a Montana Republican, speaking during a news conference

Sen. Steve Daines, a Montana Republican, has a Twitter profile picture depicting him and his wife on a hunting trip. 

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Twitter suspended and then restored Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines' account over a profile picture that showed the lawmaker posing with his wife while hunting.

The photo shows the pair with a dead antelope that has tiny specks of blood, an image that Twitter initially said violated its rules against posting "graphic violence," according to a press release from the senator. The company defines graphic violence as content that includes depictions of "bodily fluids including blood." Twitter suspended Daines' account on Monday night before restoring it on Tuesday, his office said.

"This is being fixed," said Twitter's owner and CEO, Elon Musk, in a tweet. "Policy against showing blood in profile pic is being amended to 'clearly showing blood without clicking on the profile pic.'"

The temporary suspension shows how Twitter is still struggling to moderate content even after Musk purchased the company for $44 billion last year. The billionaire portrays himself as a champion of free speech but has changed his mind about what is and isn't allowed on the social media site. Under his leadership, Twitter has temporarily suspended an account that tracks Musk's jet, and accounts of journalists and others. Twitter, like Facebook, also reinstated former US President Donald Trump's account after the politician was suspended from the site for nearly two years for violating rules against inciting violence. 

Daines' account suspension also sparked criticism from Republicans, who started tweeting #FreeSteveDaines and urged Musk to reverse the decision. Republicans have repeatedly alleged that Twitter censors conservative speech, accusations the social media company has repeatedly denied. Twitter didn't respond to a request for comment. 

Daines, who has more than 86,000 followers on Twitter, said in a statement he's grateful that Musk reached out to him and he thanked the CEO on Twitter.

"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 Montanans share on social media every day," he said.