Instagram and Facebook are now under fire for censoring posts related to abortion pills and related services. This move got noticed by numerous users soon after the US Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade judgement on June 24th 2022. Overturning Roe v Wade meant that women did not have a constitutional right to abortion in the USA.
Many states in the USA were planning to immediately introduce legislation in their congresses to make abortion illegal. The actions from Instagram and Facebook are expected to be part of this move.
From Friday onwards, users in these social media applications owned by Meta Inc found out that posts offering to mail abortion pills were being pulled down by the apps.
Some users even found out that their accounts were suspended after posting content related to abortion pills. One user got their account suspended for posting a poster with “I will mail abortion pills to any one of you. Just message me.”
A magazine named Motherboard, owned by Vice News tried out posting similar content on Facebook after the users complained about the censoring. What happened next was shocking, as the magazine got its account suspended for 24 hours.
Motherboard reports that the key phrase “abortion pills” acted as the stimuli for removal of post and suspension of accounts. The same words in different other combinations did not face any issue from the Facebook moderation algorithm.
“Sensitive content” on Instagram
In a similar incident, the associated press reported that some users on Instagram got their posts pulled down. All these posts were offering abortion pills to those who need them.
The associated press tried out to post similar content and found out that the message was taken down within 60 seconds after it got posted.
Reaction from Instagram and Facebook
Andy Stone, Policy Communications Director of Meta, came out on Twitter with an explanation regarding the censoring faced by several users.
Andy Stone stated that while there were “some instances of incorrect enforcement” of rules and regulations of Meta, company policy about pharmaceutical products was clear. Posts which contain any form of buying, selling, trading, requesting or donating pharma products are not allowed.
Only “legitimate healthcare e-commerce businesses” that offer delivery are given exceptions to this policy.
Mr Stone did not provide any further clarifications regarding the reason keyphrases such as “abortion pills” were being moderated and censored which was such strictness while other illegal substances were not.
Instagram also took onto Twitter statin that it is getting reports from people around the world regarding misplacement of “sensitive content” on posts which are not sensitive in any form. Instagram said the company is looking into the bug and will find a fix soon.