Some users of Facebook had their posts removed this week for writing about mailing abortion pills and in some cases, some had their account temporarily suspended for violating company’s terms of service.
Contrary to this, A test conducted by Gizmodo and previous reporting from Vices indicates that,
Facebook is only flagging certain, less active accounts and leaving little room for distinctions between actively selling drugs online and posts attempting to spread awareness of the availability of legal abortion methods via the internet.
A Vice report Monday detailed accounts of users who claimed they had their posts removed and accounts banned after posting about abortion access by mail. One user claimed Facebook removed their post less than one minute after it went live. “I will mail abortion pills to any one of you,” the users reportedly wrote. “Just message me.” Using a burner account, Vice reporters posted the phrase, “abortion pills can be mailed,” which was flagged within seconds for violating Facebook’s rules around drugs.
When exactly Facebook started removing these and similar posts is unclear. But Motherboard confirmed Facebook removed such posts on the same day that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the United States.
Facebook did not reply to a request for comment, but after this story was first published Meta spokesperson Andy Stone tweeted that Facebook’s policy doesn’t allow users to “buy, sell, trade, gift, request or donate pharmaceuticals Facebook incorrectly removed some posts.” Stone also said that some posts were incorrectly removed.
Even under the clearest circumstances, the question of how to treat content related to mailing pharmaceutical drugs poses a challenge for Facebook and any other major platform.