WASHINGTON — Facebook and Instagram have begun rapidly removing posts offering abortion pills to women who may not be able to access them following a Supreme Court ruling that stripped constitutional protections for the process.
These social media posts were apparently aimed at helping women living in states where pre-existing laws banning abortion suddenly took effect on Friday. It was then that the High Court overturned Roe v. Wade, his 1973 decision which declared access to abortion a constitutional right.
Memes and status updates explaining how women could legally get abortion pills in the mail have exploded on social platforms. Some have even offered to send the prescriptions to women living in states that now ban the procedure.
Almost immediately, Facebook and Instagram began deleting some of these posts, as millions of people across the United States sought to clarify access to abortion. General mentions of abortion pills, as well as posts mentioning specific versions such as mifepristone and misoprostol, suddenly spiked Friday morning on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and TV shows, according to analysis by the intelligence firm. Zignal Labs media.
By Sunday, Zignal had counted more than 250,000 such mentions.
The AP obtained a screenshot of an Instagram post by a woman on Friday offering to buy or mail abortion pills, minutes after the court ruled to strike down the constitutional right to abortion.
“Contact me if you want to order abortion pills, but want them sent to my address instead of yours,” the Instagram post read.
Instagram deleted it within moments. Vice Media first reported Monday that Meta, the parent of Facebook and Instagram, was removing posts about abortion pills.
On Monday, an AP reporter tested the company’s response to a similar Facebook post, writing, “If you send me your address, I’ll send you abortion pills.”
The post was deleted within a minute.
The Facebook account was immediately placed on a “warning” for the post, which Facebook said violated its standards on “guns, animals and other regulated property”.
Yet when the AP reporter made the exact same message but replaced the words “abortion pills” with “a gun”, the message remained intact. A message containing the exact same offer to send “weed” was also left and was not considered a violation.
Marijuana is illegal under federal law and it is illegal to mail it.
However, abortion pills can legally be obtained by mail after consulting online with certified and trained prescribers.
In an email, a Meta spokesperson pointed to company policies that prohibit the sale of certain items, including firearms, alcohol, drugs and pharmaceuticals. The company has not explained the apparent deviations in its application of this policy.
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone confirmed in a tweet on Monday that the company will not allow individuals to offer or sell pharmaceuticals on its platform, but will allow content that shares information about how to access the pills. Stone has acknowledged some issues with enforcing this policy on its platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.
“We have discovered instances of incorrect application and are correcting them,” Stone said in the tweet.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday that states should not ban mifepristone, the drug used to induce abortion.
“States cannot ban mifepristone due to disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment on its safety and efficacy,” Garland said in a statement Friday.
But some Republicans have already tried to block their residents from getting abortion pills in the mail, with some states like West Virginia and Tennessee banning providers from prescribing the drug through telemedicine consultation.