Britney Spears' Instagram account disappears, bewildering fans after she thanked #FreeBritney movement

Britney Spears' Instagram account has been deactivated in a move that has left fans concerned after the pop star thanked the #FreeBritney movement in her final post. 

The sudden disappearance of the pop star's much discussed Instagram account prompted confusion online, with the #WhereIsBritney trending on Twitter on Tuesday evening (US time).

A tweet from Spears' verified Twitter account attempted to assure fans that she was simply "taking a break from social media" to celebrate her recent engagement. 

"I'll be back soon," the tweet read. 

Many fans of the star remain convinced there's a more sinister reason for Spears' Instagram account to be deleted, sharing their suspicions that it may not have been her decision. 

"Britney's Instagram is the only way she can communicate with the public. I don't believe for a second she deleted it herself. Something weird is going on," one tweet read. 

Others suggested the move may have had something to do with a slew of nearly-nude photos shared by the 'Gimme More' hitmaker in recent months. 

"I wanted to see myself in a lighter way... naked... like the way I was born," Spears captioned a series of topless photos last month. 

Spears' somewhat erratic presence on the social media platform included frequent videos of her dancing at home, lengthy, rambling captions that were at times difficult to follow, and Q+A sessions in which the 'Toxic' star would answer menial questions, ignoring the controversy around her personal life. 

Proponents of the #FreeBritney movement would often claim they could observe 'self-soothing' behaviours such as rocking in Spears' videos, offering this as evidence of her suffering under restrictive conditions. Fans also interpreted Spears' words, use of emojis and the colours she wore in her videos as cryptic messages from her asking for help or saying she was okay. 

More recently, the 39-year-old began using Instagram as a place to speak openly about the conservatorship helmed by her father since 2008, which she called "abusive" in two emotional court testimonies

Her last Instagram post featured screenshots from an article titled 'Infusing education with heart' along with a caption that read: "Growing up in a world where basically almost everything I did was controlled by someone else ... I hope this message gets to people who have been confused or manipulated by a system." 

"People need to hear this before it's TOO LATE!!!!" she continued.

"I've waited 13 years and counting for my freedom!!!!! Again… team #FreeBritney you guys f**king kick ass." 

Earlier this week Spears announced she was engaged to her partner Sam Asghari, something she claimed she hadn't been allowed to do while under her conservatorship. The Grammy winner's father Jamie Spears, who she said she wanted to see "jailed" for his actions as conservator of her estate, recently announced he would step down from the role, and has gone on to petition for the end of the conservatorship himself.