Today, Chuck Konzelman, director and writer for the pro-life film ‘Unplanned,” which tells the pro-life conversion story of former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson, spoke at a Senate hearing hosted by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) titled, “Stifling Free Speech: Technology Censorship and the Public Discourse.” Konzelman explained to the a panel how the film’s Twitter account was shut down on the film’s opening weekend. After a large outcry, the account was restored, and Twitter claimed that the page had been suspended by mistake. But users noticed that the follower count on the page had plummeted, with some finding that they had been removed as followers and could not follow the account again. This, too, Twitter said, was a result of the accidental suspension.
According to Life Site News, Konzelman told the panel, “If [tech giants and media] are allowed to apply their own broadly drawn ‘guidelines’ to dismiss one side of controversial issues – the side they don’t agree with — and do so with impunity? Then they will do so. In a digital age, exclusion from the digital arena isn’t just discriminatory – it’s the most insidiously effective form of censorship imaginable.”
Konzelman expounded upon the virtual blackout the filmmakers faced. The only cable networks to accept their ads, he told the panel, were Fox and CBN. The MPAA’s R-rating of the film served to limit the trailer’s distribution and the audience for the film’s ads. Google also rejected ads for the film. “We consider these blanket refusals highly unusual and highly discriminatory, and have formally petitioned the FCC to look further into the matter,” Konzelman said. On Facebook, however, the movie’s trailer went viral, proving, said Konzelman, the need for “unrestricted access” to social media. Read Konzelman’s full, prepared remarks here.
Konzelman testified on one of the two panels that met. On the same panel, others testified, including Marilyn Musgrave of the Susan B. Anthony List, who attested to being on the receiving end of similar social media censorship. Testifying on the second panel were Carlos Monje, Jr. from Twitter, and Neil Potts from Facebook.
In a press release, Live Action president and founder Lila Rose spoke in support of Senator Cruz’s hearing regarding the censorship of certain pro-life views by tech and social media giants. Live Action has been banned by Twitter from running ads for years. Rose said:
Twitter is misleading the public and their shareholders by claiming to be a free marketplace of ideas. Their core values claim to ‘seek diverse perspectives’ and ‘free expression’ while ‘respecting the user’s voice.’ In reality, Twitter manipulates what users see by deciding what organizations and individuals can ‘pay to play’ on their platform. For example, Planned Parenthood spent over $120,000 in the last week on ads promoting their pro-abortion ideology on Twitter. But Twitter has told us, one of the largest pro-life organizations online, that we are not allowed to promote our pro-life messages on the platform. Live Action’s ad account is blocked from promoting ads. SBA List, and other pro-lifers face the same issues. Being pro-life on Twitter is a cardinal sin.
What happened to the “Unplanned” movie is wrong and indicative of Twitter’s ideology at work. Twitter’s blatant censorship of pro-life messages and messengers is outrageous and goes against their promise of a free and global conversation without barriers.
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