Rights groups accuse tech giants of limiting the content of abortion pills

As anti-choice lawmakers step up attacks on reproductive freedom across the United States, new reports on Monday sounded the alarm about Big Tech companies limiting access to scientifically accurate content from advocacy organizations. abortion while allowing the spread of misinformation.

“When there are efforts or blockages that are imposed by these companies, it impacts our ability to get the word out.”

Representatives of several pro-choice groups said The hill‘s Rebecca Klar about their struggles to circulate credible information about access to medical abortion – which typically involves two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol – through platforms such as Google-owned Facebook and YouTube.

Klar’s report follows the Food and Drug Administration easing restrictions on abortion pills earlier this month, allowing patients to receive the drugs by mail rather than in person from some healthcare providers. health – a decision made as the right-wing US Supreme Court considers a case. who could reverse Roe vs. Wade.

Under the current circumstances, sharing accurate information online is necessary, according to Jennifer Holloway, communications director for Ipas Group, who had her YouTube channel temporarily suspended in August over a video about self-managed abortion with pills.

“More Americans are going to need accurate information about abortion, and how to access a procedure in the clinic, or how to access abortion pills, how to use them, and what they need to know about it,” said Holloway. The hill.

“But these platforms have algorithms that bring out opposition, misinformation and misleading content, and that seems to be advantaged by the algorithm over scientifically based or factual information that sexual and reproductive health groups share,” said she added.

Another group that shares resources on abortion pills, Plan C, has had issues not only with Google — which didn’t respond to Klar’s request for comment — but also with Facebook and Instagram, which have the same company. mother, Meta.

Klar reported that Plan C suspended its Google advertising account for several days this month, and the organization’s executives said that Facebook and Instagram routinely delete its organic posts and reject its ads.

A spokesperson for Meta did not respond to questions about the organic posts, but “stated that some rejected Plan C ads do not reflect the organization’s considerable efforts on Facebook,” according to The hillwhich noted that the group had active ads on the platform, based on a search of its public announcements library.

Social media is a “key way for advocates and others to reach people who need information,” said Elisa Wells, co-founder and co-director of Plan C, “so when there are efforts or blockages that are imposed by these companies, it has an impact on our ability to get the message across.”

Meanwhile, as a September report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCHR) revealed, Facebook and Google are “taking money for ads that promote an unproven and dangerous medical procedure – the so-called “abortion reversal”.

“Clinical studies show that this procedure is dangerous, potentially causing severe bleeding,” the report notes. “In either case, these ads violate the platforms’ own standards.”

Google responded to the CCHR’s findings by taking steps to remove ads that contain misinformation about abortion. The hill pointed out that Facebook’s Ads Library shows that some, but not all, ads from the pages identified in the report were also removed.

Tech giants, particularly Google and Facebook, have come under increasing criticism for not doing enough to combat – and often profit from – the spread of misinformation on a variety of topics, from the climate emergency to Covid vaccines. -19 and other health problems.

Calls for bolder action by big tech companies and lawmakers to tackle online misinformation are mounting as right-wing policymakers enact laws aimed not only at cutting off access to reproductive health care, but also to allow the Supreme Court to overturn the 1973 decision that affirmed the right to abortion.

In response to the “unprecedented” attacks on abortion rights by GOP state lawmakers and concerns about the impending decision on roe deerU.S. Senate Democrats are under pressure to advance the House-approved Women’s Health Protection Act by any means necessary, including abolishing the filibuster, which may also be necessary to impose restrictions on Big Tech.

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