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Supporters of the movie Unplanned criticized Twitter over the weekend for what they said was censorship of the film’s account.
The movie, which took in $6 million on its opening weekend, is based on the memoir of Abby Johnson, who was the director of a Planned Parenthood clinic until, she said, participating in an abortion procedure caused her to become pro-life.
The account tweeted on Saturday that it had lost followers after it was suspended on accident.
A Twitter spokesperson told the Daily Dot the suspension “wasn’t directly about this account. When an account violates the Twitter Rules, the system looks for linked accounts to mitigate things like ban evasion. In this case, the account was mistakenly caught in our automated systems for ban evasion.”
However, Twitter declined to elaborate on any accounts linked to the film.
“We reinstated the account as soon as it was brought to our attention,” the social media company said via email and explained that the follower counts would take time to replenish after the account’s reinstatement.
Twitter users, including National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch, complained about not being able to follow the account over the weekend.
This is what happens when I hit follow and then refresh the page— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) April 1, 2019
(plz ignore my dogs’ snoring) pic.twitter.com/SrdgJReEca
Hey @jack - why aren’t you letting me follow @UnplannedMovie ? I’ve tried eight times to support my friend @AbbyJohnson and @Twitter won’t let me. Others are having the same issue. Please correct this. Thank you.— Patricia Heaton (@PatriciaHeaton) April 1, 2019
Donald Trump Jr. also tweeted what appears to be a video of someone attempting to follow the account, and not being able to.
Yet another example of the Social Media Masters only letting people see what they want them to see and believe.— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) April 1, 2019
The censorship and the bias must stop!!! https://t.co/QESRltiMJZ
By Monday morning, the account tweeted that its follower levels were up to almost 200,000.
Who else is watching Twitter like a hawk?— UnplannedMovie (@UnplannedMovie) April 1, 2019
Thanks to all of you who noticed Twitter pitching them off our follower list! It looks like we're back to normal - and up to almost 200k!
#UnPlanned @benshapiro @LilaGraceRose @StudentsforLife
The movie also drew attention from Vice President Mike Pence.
“So good to see movie theaters across the country showing @UnplannedMovie — a deeply inspiring new pro-life film based on the best-selling book by @AbbyJohnson. More & more Americans are embracing the sanctity of life because of powerful stories like this one,” he tweeted in support of the film.
So good to see movie theaters across the country showing @UnplannedMovie -- a deeply inspiring new pro-life film based on the best-selling book by @AbbyJohnson. More & more Americans are embracing the sanctity of life because of powerful stories like this one. #Unplanned— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) April 1, 2019
The controversy is just the latest where conservatives on Twitter claim that the platform is censoring them. Twitter told the Daily Dot, “We enforce our rules dispassionately and do not engage in so-called shadow banning,” a common accusation lobbed at the social media company.
But fans of the movie also claimed that their tweets about the film weren’t trending on Twitter.
Ellen Ioanes is the FOIA reporter at the Daily Dot, where she covers U.S. politics. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School, and her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Center for Public Integrity, HuffPost India, and more.