After the Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe vs. Wade On Friday, Facebook and Instagram began rapidly deleting posts from users offering to ship abortion pills to those in need. In one case, as reported by The Associated Press, an Instagram user told his followers on Friday to “DM me if you want to order abortion pills, but want them sent to my address at place of yours”. The offer was posted minutes after the Supreme Court’s decision was made public and withdrawn moments later, according to the AP. Additionally, Motherboard noted that a Facebook user had their account suspended after writing, “I will send you abortion pills in the mail. Just send me a message.
On Monday, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, explained the policy following the release of Motherboard’s report. “Content that attempts to buy, sell, barter, give, request, or give away pharmaceuticals is not permitted. Content that discusses the affordability and accessibility of prescription drugs is authorized “, tweeted Meta Spokesperson Andy Pierre. “We have discovered cases of incorrect application and we are correcting them.”
This rapid withdrawal was still happening on Tuesday. Seconds after posting messages on Facebook that read “DM me your address and I can send you abortion pills” and “You can use my address if you need a place to ship abortion pills,” I I received the following notification in both cases: “Your post violates our Community Drug Standards. No one else can see your message. We have these standards to encourage safety and compliance with common legal restrictions. I shared the same posts on Instagram, and they were both quickly deleted. (Unlike the case reported by Motherboard, no accounts were suspended.)
However, after rewording the posts with intentional typos – for example, “DM if you need ab0rti0n pills and you can pick them up at my address” – neither Facebook nor Instagram deleted them.
In light of the Supreme Court’s decision, the legality of FDA-approved abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostol, which were cleared for mail-order sale last year, remains in question in a number of States. Since Roe vs. Wade was overturned, nine states have made most abortions illegal, with the majority having already banned or restricted access to abortion pills. Last week, the Biden administration, including the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services, announced that it would work to expand access to medicine across the United States.
Instagram even apparently flags pro-choice content that never mentions abortion pills. “I shared the poster for my short documentary ‘Someone You Know’ on Instagram yesterday, (a film documenting 3 subsequent abortion stories using animation I shot in 2020),” wrote Asha Dahya, a pro-choice activist, in a Tuesday tweet noting that Instagram had placed a “graphic and violent content” warning on her post.
In a post shared shortly after Dahya’s tweet, Instagram’s official PR account wrote, “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 are investigating this bug and are now working on a fix. It’s unclear if the statement was triggered by Dahya, but Instagram PR shared the explanation less than 30 minutes after her tweet. Meta PR did not immediately respond to vanity lounge‘s requests for comments.