Facebook and Instagram have begun removing posts and temporarily banning users that offer abortion pills to women who may not be able to access them after the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade.
After the decision was overturned on Friday, social media posts exploded across platforms during the weekend, explaining how women could legally obtain abortion pills in the mail. Some offered to mail the prescriptions to women in states that now ban the procedure.
General posts about abortion pills, as well as ones that mentioned specific versions such as mifepristone and misoprostol, spiked on Friday morning across Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and Twitter. By Sunday, more than 250,000 mentions had been posted, the media intelligence firm Zignal Labs told The Associated Press.
But Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, began removing some of these posts almost right away, the AP reported. Journalists at news outlets saved screenshots of posts that offered pills and were removed minutes later. Users were notified that they were banned, according to Vice.
On Friday, a Vice reporter posted the phrase “abortion pills can be mailed” on Facebook, which was flagged within seconds for violating the platform’s community rules against buying, selling, or trading medical or nonmedical drugs. The reporter was given the option to “agree” or “disagree” with the decision, and after they chose to “disagree,” the post was removed.
On Monday, the post that Vice “disagreed” had violated the standards was reinstated, the news outlet reported. The reporter wrote a new post with the phrase “abortion pills can be mailed,” which was flagged instantly for removal. After the reporter “agreed” with the decision, the account was suspended for 24 hours.
Similarly on Monday, a reporter for the AP wrote a post on Facebook that said, “If you send me your address, I will mail you abortion pills.” The post was removed within 1 minute, and the account was put on a “warning” status for the post. Other posts that offered “a gun” or “weed” were not flagged or removed, the AP reported.
Marijuana is illegal under federal law and can’t be sent through the mail, the AP reported. But abortion pills can be obtained through the mail legally.
Meta won’t allow people to gift or sell pharmaceuticals on its platform but will allow posts that share information about accessing pills, Andy Stone, a Meta spokesperson, wrote in a Twitter comment in response to the Vice article on Monday.
“Content that attempts to buy, sell, trade, gift, request, or donate pharmaceuticals is not allowed,” he wrote. “Content that discusses the affordability and accessibility of prescription medication is allowed. We’ve discovered some instances of incorrect enforcement and are correcting these.”
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday that the FDA has approved the use of mifepristone for medication abortion up to 10 weeks. In 2021, the FDA also made it possible and legal to send abortion pills via mail.
“States may not ban mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy,” he said in a statement.
At the same time, some Republican lawmakers have tried to stop residents from getting abortion pills through the mail, the AP reported. States such as Tennessee and West Virginia have prohibited providers from prescribing the medication through telemedicine consultations, and Texas has made it illegal to send abortion pills through the mail.
The Associated Press: “Instagram and Facebook remove posts offering abortion pills.”
Vice: “Facebook Is Banning People Who Say They Will Mail Abortion Pills.”
Twitter: @andymstone, June 27, 2022.
U.S. Department of Justice: “Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Statement on Supreme Court Ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.”
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