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February 2024
Author: Jessica Taylor Byers

Spending even a few minutes on social media platforms reveals a very consistent issue – they’re flagging nearly every post related to the hunting and outdoor lifestyle as “sensitive content.” When this first began a few years ago, I admit that some were worth flagging. For example, we don’t really need to see you running an 8" blade into a pig’s vitals or a close up of the head of your turkey dangling by a thread. Even as an avid outdoorsman and supporter of our way of life, I do have a line that I won’t cross. I think it’s important to ask ourselves if the photo or video highlights the hunt while still showing respect to the animal. It’s a complicated, blurry line, but some things I see are very distasteful to which I turn my head and think, “Did you even think that one through before posting it?”

I’m not talking about those posts, though. I’m referring to the strong wave of censorship we’re experiencing for even showing a weapon or dead animal of any kind, beyond the trophy photos that are low-hanging fruit for them. Sitting in a duck blind with a shotgun? Flagged. Packing out an elk rack on your back? Flagged. Processing your animal to show how the meat is being used? Flagged. I’ve even seen videos without a weapon or animal in them being flagged simply because it’s related to our lifestyle. I can only assume that as AI continues to advance, these platforms are utilizing it and not establishing clear parameters. Whatever the reason, it’s sad that I can’t watch someone loading a gun or making an extremely ethical shot that showcases the animal dying quickly and painlessly, but I can very easily find nudity and sexually suggestive content in minutes. Furthermore, nearly everyone I know gets flooded with private links from porn sights these days. We are constantly deleting comments and messages from the Huntin’ Fool page because there’s no filter to automatically block them, and they’re certainly not putting “sensitive content” over the posts. It’s disgusting and feels like their priorities are out of order.

While there are bad eggs in every industry who poorly represent the whole, I believe most sportsmen carry themselves well with the utmost respect for the game we chase. We are storytellers, providers, teachers, and students with a common goal to keep the tradition alive. It’s quite beautiful, actually. As social media platforms continue to crack down on this lifelong skill and attempt to control the narrative by painting hunters in a negative light, I can’t help but ask, “Is this really sensitive content, or are you just sensitive?” I think we all know the answer to that question, and those are the same soft, delusional people I’d never want to be stuck on the side of the mountain with, but I’ll save that rant for my next Soapbox.