Britney Spears’ Instagram page has been a subject of major controversy in recent months, and diehard fans have been keeping an eye on her activity with the vigilance one would expect from self-appointed protectors searching for signs of distress.
Is Britney really sending coded messages to her from fans via cryptic social media posts?
It’s a theory that would have sounded absurd not too long ago — but these days, it seems all too believable.
The combination of the recent New York Times documentary about Spears, and months of bizarre drama involving her online presence have put the #FreeBritney movement on high alert.
We now have a situation in which tens of thousands of Spears fans have become convinced that Britney is being held captive.
They’re convinced that the conservatorship controlled by Britney’s father, Jamie Spears, is being used to silence the pop icon and prevent her from communicating with her fans.
Earlier this week, Spears didn’t post anything on Instagram for a period of four days.
In normal cases, there’s nothing strange about a celebrity taking a few days off from sharing content.
But Britney’s situation is anything but normal.
When she returned to Instagram, she did so with a strange post featuring three different versions of the photo below, each with slight adjustments in color and contrast.
"RED !!!! PS … the project PINK will be revealed next week," Spears captioned the photos.
The situation left #FreeBritney advocates feeling deeply concerned.
And many of them are convinced that one man, and one man alone is in a position to help Spears out of her current predicament.
Britney has been dating Sam Asghari for several years now, and many believe that he’s the only one who’s truly in her corner these days.
And they’re upset by what they feel is a lack of effort on Asghari’s part to either spring Britney from her parental prison, or tell the world what he knows about her plight.
Asghari shared the photo below this week, along with the most innocuous caption imaginable.
"Sunday stroll wearing my comfortable tracksuit," he captioned the pic.
Despite the laid-back nature of the post, Asghari’s comments section quickly erupted with criticism from concerned Britney fans.
"How do you still have any fans? Clearly you ignore every question asked about Britney, the person you supposedly love, and act like nothing strange is going on with her life," one person asked
"You could be a major advocate for her yet you choose to stay silent," another chimed in.
"Either you’re involved with the evil or you just don’t give a shit. Pretty fucking disgusting. Looks and money don’t matter if your heart and soul is filled with rot."
Now, it’s important to remember that, for all we know, Sam is doing his best to come to Britney’s aid.
Perhaps he knows that if he speaks out, the powers that be will prevent him from having any contact with Spears, possibly preventing him from rescuing her.
Or … maybe he’s exploiting her and benefiting from the situation like every other person in her life.
We have no way of knowing for sure.
Which is exactly what makes Britney’s situation so terrifying.