News Analysis

Overlooked: Pro-life film’s Twitter suspension overturned

What happened?

A pro-life film has been briefly banned by a social media website. Unplanned, which tells the true story of ex-Planned Parenthood worker Abby Johnson, opened last weekend. Twitter suspended its account, but restored it after an outcry. The story helped increase the film’s Twitter followers from a few thousand to over 300,000.

Why was it under-reported?

Although the incident received some coverage, it was largely neglected by mainstream publications. TV stations had also rejected the film’s trailer. So the film had stayed under the radar.

Twitter denied deliberately targeting the film, saying that it was a mistake. But the suspension contributed to a sense that the film was struggling, against difficult odds, to tell an important story. Certainly the plot – about an abortion worker who, on seeing a termination performed, was shocked and became pro-life – is an uncomfortable one for some publications.

What will happen next?

The film has become a word-of-mouth hit (see Statistic of the Week, page 7) and the Twitter incident has only increased its momentum. However, it has also suffered controversy after the film’s Twitter account used slogans from a conspiracy theory website. The slogans have since been deleted.

The writer Simcha Fisher wrote on her blog: “I believe the movie has the power to change hearts and has probably already done so. But I do not believe any movement, no matter how worthwhile, should be immune from scrutiny.”