Instagram, Facebook Cracking Down on Abortion Pill Posts

And more abortion-related controversy related to the social networks
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2022 2:16 AM CDT
Instagram Hid Posts That Mentioned Abortion
The Instagram app is displayed on a computer on Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in New York.   (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

Shortly after Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court, Instagram and Facebook were making headlines for more than one abortion-related reason. On Monday, Vice and other outlets reported that both Instagram and its sister company, Facebook, were removing posts from people offering to mail abortion pills. In some cases, the users were temporarily banned from the social network as well. Then, on Tuesday, the AP reported that Instagram had been blocking some posts mentioning abortion at all, hiding them from public view. Both articles were quickly responded to:

  • Abortion pills: "Content that attempts to buy, sell, trade, gift, request or donate pharmaceuticals is not allowed," the policy communications director at parent company Meta tweeted. "Content that discusses the affordability and accessibility of prescription medication is allowed. We've discovered some instances of incorrect enforcement and are correcting these."

  • Hidden abortion posts on Instagram: "We're hearing that people around the world are seeing our 'sensitivity screens' on many different types of content when they shouldn't be. We're looking into this bug and working on a fix now," Instagram tweeted. (In some cases, Instagram was slapping informational posts about abortion with a "graphic or violent content" warning despite none of them featuring abortion photos, or making users confirm their age before allowing them to see the posts.)
  • And more: NBC News reports that searches for "mifepristone" or "abortion pills," as well as the hashtags for those terms, were temporarily blocked on Instagram, apparently related to both of the above-mentioned issues. The searches were later unblocked.
The AP also notes that despite Meta's statement on the abortion pill posts, similar posts offering to mail firearms or weed were not removed. Meta has not commented on why that would be. At NBC News, Kara Alaimo writes that this whole issue "shows that we simply can’t trust social networks like Facebook and Instagram to moderate their platforms responsibly or deliver the information we need to know about the world." (More Instagram stories.)

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