There was a flurry of Twitter activity these past few days. If you search under the hastag #UnblockEA you will see a chirruping of epic proportions. The reason? A baffling decision by Twitter to suspend all transmedia accounts associated with Emma Approved, the upcoming web series from the makers of the highly successful Lizzie Bennett Diaries. Series showrunner Bernie Su used the medium to complain about the problem and to rally fans around pressuring Twitter into re-instating the suspended accounts.
I talked about the Lizzie Bennett Diaries and Emma Approved previously. A large part of the extracurricular fun involved is to do with transmedia. Characters from these shows have an active ‘in character’ social media presence. They talk to each other within the context of the show and can add a richness and fullness to the main programme that is fantastically unique to web series. The upcoming Emma Approved (based on Jane Austen’s novel of the same name) has Twitter accounts for the characters of Emma (@EmmaApproved) Ryan Weston (@theryanweston), Annie Taylor (@theannietaylor), Harriet Smith (@theharrietsmith) and Frank Churchill (@franklychurch). It was the latter four that got suspended for several days.
Bear in mind, that the Lizzie Bennett Diaries just won an Emmy for ‘Outstanding Achievement In Interactive Media’, with transmedia being a very large part of that, if not the winning factor. The very thing that has being earning accolades was blanketed out on the social media site with accounts suspended, no reasoning giving, and leaving a momentum gathering promotion machine floundering impotently. Whilst no explanation was provided for the blockage, anybody who oversaw the @twitter feed on Tuesday was likely to be crushed under the weight of irritation from the not un-sizeable fandom that the LBD enjoys, and Emma Approved will likely share.
Even the Facebook account for ‘Socially Awkward Darcy’ showed solidarity with Emma Approved’s predicament. Of course, this account related to the character of Mr Darcy from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which was the subject that got a modern re-make in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. The character has maintain social media since due to popular demand.
Thankfully for all concerned, Twitter soon got the message and re-instated the accounts after a few days down time.
With transmedia as one of their big selling points (did I mention the freakin’ Emmy?) all involved in Emma Approved can breathe a sigh of relief to have operations back to normal, as an extended ban would have been highly detrimental to the promotion machine that is gaining speed in preparation for Emma Approved’s launch on October 7th. The actress set to play the eponymous Emma has not yet been announced, but discussion on the subject has been encouraged by this official blog post teasing with some details on the character. Similarly, the hashtag #WhoIsEmma is being promoted to get discussion moving.
Whether or not the suspension of in-universe character Twitter feeds was a conscious policy decision or the result of an indiscriminate auto-system is unclear, with no official word from Twitter on the matter, but any future work in the burgeoning field of transmedia will have to keep a watchful eye on their accounts lest they find themselves unable to add the depth and detail that such accounts provide.