Facebook Restricted a Planned Parenthood Post Telling People About Abortion Pills

Facebook took action on the post, despite medication abortion pills being legal in Michigan.
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Image: Justin Sullivan/Staff

Facebook restricted a post from Planned Parenthood of Michigan which contained factual information on abortion pills and which also included a link to an article on where to obtain abortion pills online. Abortion is legal in Michigan.

The news shows Facebook’s, and it parent company Meta’s, continuing issues with content moderation around abortion on its platform after the Supreme Court voted to remove federal protections to abortion. In June, Motherboard reported that Facebook was removing posts from users who shared updates that say abortion pills can be mailed, and, in some cases, banning those users. Those similar sorts of content moderation issues are now expanding to established voices of authority on abortion, such as Planned Parenthood.

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The post itself read “A medication abortion is a nonsurgical option for ending a pregnancy in the first trimester. Approved by the FDA for use up to roughly 10 weeks of pregnancy, these medications are highly effective with little risk of serious side effects.” The post added that Planned Parenthood of Michigan was proud to offer medication abortion to qualtifying patients, and provided a link to an article on health.com that provided more information.

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The restriction meant that only people who manage Planned Parenthood of Michigan’s Facebook page, and not the wider public, could view the post, according to a screenshot tweeted Thursday by Ashlea Phenicie, who works on communications for Planned Parenthood of Michigan.

Facebook told Motherboard that the post was restricted by mistake. Facebook’s policies do allow users to discuss the affordability and accessibility of pharmaceutical drugs, Facebook added.

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Along with the screenshot, Phenicie tweeted “Hey Facebook. Medication abortion is safe and legal in Michigan. You don’t need to help anti-abortion politicians restrict access any further.”

Non-profit news site The Michigan Advance first reported the removal on Monday.

Like other social media platforms, Facebook will continue to contend with how it handles not just access to information about abortions, but what data it may provide to the authorities. Earlier this month Motherboard published the search warrant affidavit in a case in which Facebook ultimately provided the chat messages of a mother and her young young daugher who conducted an apparent medication abortion at home in Nebraska. Facebook provided the data to local authorities who then charged the two with multiple felonies and misdemeanors.

After Motherboard reported on the earlier instance of Facebook removing posts from users that said abortion pills can be mailed, Andy Stone, policy communications director at Meta, tweeted that “Content that attempts to buy, sell, trade, gift, request or donate pharmaceuticals is not allowed. Content that discusses the affordability and accessibility of prescription medication is allowed. We've discovered some instances of incorrect enforcement and are correcting these.”

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