Three days after the overtly pro-life film, “Unplanned” hit movie theaters nation wide, and one day after reaching #4 in the Box Office, the film’s official Twitter Handle (@UnplannedMovie) was inexplicably suspended, late Saturday morning.
Conservative voices took to Twitter to condemn the suspension, many claiming the move as “par the course” in the social media giant’s attempt to censor conservative thought.
Twitter just suspended @UnplannedMovie during the weekend of its theatrical release.@jack why are they suspended? You’ve banned both my & @LiveAction account from all promotions simply bc we’re pro-life. Have you banned this account because it challenges your pro-abortion bias? pic.twitter.com/TBarDx2sU4
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) March 30, 2019
After reporting on the suspension, I reached out to Twitter’s Communication and Press Office for comments on the reason behind it. Their office returned my inquiry an hour later.
— Bree A Dail (@breeadail) March 30, 2019
According to a Twitter spokeswoman, the suspension wasn’t directly in response to the film’s official twitter account, but due to another linked to it. An algorithm sets in, identifying accounts linked to the one that had violated “Twitter rules”, and suspends them in order to ensure that the offenders don’t evade by turning to another account. After suspending @UnplannedMovie, Twitter reviewed all accounts in question, and on further review, it was clear the film’s official account should not be suspended, even if tied to another that was. According to the spokeswoman, “We (at Twitter) enforce the Twitter Rules impartially for all users, regardless of their background or political affiliation”.
When pressed on why Twitter had not verified this account, along with other influential conservative handles—knowing that verified accounts are protected from unscrupulous report “swarming” by “troll” accounts and knowing that the controversial film had hit theatres, the spokeswoman replied that she had no further comment.
Earlier this month, in an effort to counter the increasing unease of many conservatives using his social media platform, CEO and Co-Founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey sat with podcaster Joe Rogan for a three-hour interview. Concerns were raised, including refusal to “verify” conservative accounts (in other words, provide an official “blue checkmark”, confirming that account to belonging to influential accounts), the use of specific algorithms to allegedly “shadowban” conservative accounts (not allowing followers to read or reply to “tweets”) and suspensions of conservative accounts due to mass-complaint tactics (or swarming) of those on the left. Although the responses of Dorsey, and the global lead for legal, policy, and trust and safety at Twitter—Vijaya Gadde—seemed reasonable at first, conservatives quickly fired back with evidence—including video. Saturday’s suspension without cause, has called into question the Twitter CEO’s expressed desire — that his social media platform be one of “open and civil dialogue.”
— UnplannedMovie (@UnplannedMovie) March 30, 2019
For now, those at @UnplannedMovie, although justifiably concerned about prejudicial targeting of their social media accounts—even from the platforms themselves— seem happy for the resulting “free publicity”.