Twitter Hides Scarred Army Veteran’s Face

By Hannah Claire Brimelow

Twitter labeled a photo of retired Army Captain Sam Brown “potentially sensitive content.” 

The veteran is a Republican senatorial candidate in Nevada. Brown suffered severe burns to his face after an IED explosion while he served in Afghanistan in 2008. 

To commemorate Independence Day this year, Brown tweeted “On July 4, 1776, America was born. On July 4, 2021, we’re still the best country on this planet.” 

His post included a photo of himself in uniform saluting with the words ‘Freedom Isn’t Free’ in the corner. 

Twitter hid the photo from immediate view with the warning “The following media includes potentially sensitive content.” 

Brown responded “Hey @Twitter, I didn’t realize my face was ‘sensitive content’” and suggested the warning had more to do with his entrance into the Nevada senate race. 

Speaking with Fox News about Twitter’s actions, he said “While I was ready to lay down my life in order to protect freedom of speech for my fellow Americans, Big Tech today decided that they know better, censoring me and deeming my comments regarding this great nation ‘Sensitive Content.’ These egregious and un-American actions come mere hours after I took steps to file and establish my candidacy for the United States Senate in Nevada, reinforcing my belief that ‘Big Tech’ is working against conservatives and trying to silence our voices.” 

The social media platform has a history of subjectively screening content on its platform. Last Summer, Tucker Carlson’s tweet ridiculing Seattle’s police-free Capital Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ)  was restricted a “potentially sensitive content.” 

The same warning was added to a photo of a three-year-old with Down Syndrome in October of 2020, according to a post from Students For Life 

Twitter introduced this update, supposedly to reduce online abuse, in 2017. At the time, Gizmodo reported “What user behaviors lead to receiving protected account status remain unclear. Adding to the uncertainty is the question of why individual profiles are marked this way only some of the time.” 

In 2012, GQ recounted Brown’s harrowing experience of being a man on fire in a Middle Eastern desert during combat. After the explosion, while shots were exchanged, fire burned through Brown’s sleeves and melted his gloves into the skin on his hands. Brown ultimately took part in a VR video-game-based treatment for PTSD and pain relief

Brown is highly decorated and graduated from West Point in 2006. He has received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Accommodation Medal with “Valor” Device, Global War on Terrorism Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon, Air Assault Badge, Airborne Badge, and Ranger Tab for his military service. 

At this time, Twitter has not commented on its decision to hide Brown’s photo. 

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