Pinterest banned a prominent anti-choice activist group called Live Action for spreading misinformation on the social media site, one of the strongest actions any social media platform has taken against an anti-abortion group.
Live Action is best known for filming undercover, deceptively-edited videos at Planned Parenthood clinics. Its videos have racked up tens of millions of views on YouTube and it is one of the leading anti-choice link sharers on Facebook, according to an analysis by the progressive organization Media Matters. Pinterest decided that the organization violated its misinformation policies, the company told Motherboard in an email.
“We took action on LiveAction.org several months ago for violating our misinformation policy related to conspiracies and health,” the company said. “It was actioned and labeled for misinformation, specifically conspiracies and health misinformation.”
Pinterest did not elaborate on the specific posts that got Live Action banned, and wouldn't say the types of health misinformation that Live Action was posting. However, the group has previously shared posts claiming that abortion is linked to higher rates of breast cancer and depression on other social media platforms; there is no good science showing either claim is true.
Live Action did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though it has posted about the ban on its other social media accounts, started an online "petition" to "stop Pinterest's censorship of pro-lifers," and said that the company was "suppressing pro-life content."
Pinterest said that “content from all viewpoints is permitted on our service,” as long as posts follow the company’s community guidelines. This move, then, does not necessarily signal that Pinterest is going to take action against other anti-abortion content on the site. It’s worth noting, however, that no other major social media platform has banned Live Action, and that the organization has large followings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
Though Live Action was apparently banned on Pinterest months ago, it’s in the news now because right-wing activist organization Project Veritas reported Tuesday that it was labeled as “porn” by Pinterest’s internal content moderation systems. Pinterest said this was the result of a quirk of the company’s internal content moderation tools.
“The site was never actioned or labeled for porn,” the company said. “Our technology that enforces some of these polices was named years ago to combat porn, but has expanded to a variety of content despite retaining its original internal name. We are updating our internal labeling to make this more clear.”
Motherboard is not familiar with Pinterest’s internal content moderation tools, but other social media platforms have “porn” and “spam” filters that are prioritized over other types of content removals. This is because spam and porn can often be easily detected and removed en-masse by artificial intelligence. It isn’t uncommon for platforms to repurpose tools designed to remove spam and porn for the removal of other types of content as platforms become more sophisticated about content moderation.