Facebook restricted a family planning post telling people about abortion pills

Facebook office logo

Image: Justin Sullivan/Staff

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

The news shows that Facebook and its parent company Meta’s continue to face content moderation issues around abortion on its platform after the Supreme Court voted to remove federal abortion protections. In June, Motherboard reported that Facebook was deleting user posts who shared updates stating that abortion pills can be mailed and, in some cases, banning such users. These similar types of content moderation issues now extend to established voices of abortion authority, such as Planned Parenthood.

The message itself read: “A medical abortion is a non-surgical option for terminating a pregnancy in the first trimester. Approved by the FDA for use up to about 10 weeks of pregnancy, these medications are highly effective with little risk of serious side effects. The message added that Planned Parenthood of Michigan was proud to offer medical abortion to eligible patients and provided a link to an article on health.com which provided more information.

Do you have more information on how social media platforms deal with abortion information? We would love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox or email [email protected] .

The restriction meant only people who run the Planned Parenthood of Michigan Facebook page, not the general public, could see the post, according to a screenshot tweeted on Thursday by Ashlea Phenicie, who works on communications for Planned Parenthood of Michigan.

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

Sign up for Motherboard’s daily newsletter for a regular dose of our original reporting, plus behind-the-scenes content from our biggest stories.

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

Non-profit information site The Michigan advance first reported the removal on Monday.

Like other social media platforms, Facebook will continue to struggle with how it not only handles access to abortion information, but also what data it can provide to authorities. Earlier this month Motherboard released the search warrant affidavit in a case in which Facebook eventually provided the chat messages of a mother and her young daughter who apparently performed a medical abortion at home in Nebraska. Facebook provided the data to local authorities who then charged the two with multiple crimes and misdemeanors.

After Motherboard flagged the previous example of Facebook deleting user posts that indicated abortion pills could be mailed, Andy Stone, director of political communications at Meta, tweeted that “Content that attempts to buy, sell, barter, give, request, or give pharmaceuticals is not permitted. Content that discusses the affordability and accessibility of prescription drugs is allowed. We have discovered instances of incorrect application and are correcting them.”

Subscribe to our cybersecurity podcast, CYBER. Subscribe to our new Twitch channel.

Back To Top