If you post on Facebook about being able to mail abortion pills to those who need them, don’t be surprised if you get a warning — or even have your account restricted. A tipster told Motherboard that a minute after they posted, “I’ll send abortion pills to one of you,” they got a notification that their status update had been removed. When they later tried to post about it again, they were banned. Motherboard was able to replicate the scenario, and we were able to confirm it as well. We tried to post “abortion pills can be mailed” on Facebook and were quickly notified that we had violated the website’s community standards.
In the next slide explaining our violation, Facebook said it doesn’t allow users to buy, sell, or barter things like tobacco, marijuana, recreational drugs, and non-medical drugs. To test it out, we posted ‘I sell cigarettes’, ‘Cigarettes can be sent’, ‘Antidepressants can be sent’, and ‘painkillers can be sent’. Motherboard said their account was restricted for 24 hours after posting several flagged messages. None of them were marked. General statements such as “abortion is health care” were also not flagged. As for our flagged post, we were asked whether we wanted to accept Facebook’s enforcement action. After choosing to get it, our position was removed, but we were not banned.
It’s unclear when the website began deleting messages about sending abortion pills or if it didn’t start until after the Supreme Court overthrew Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court decision made all forms of abortion illegal in several states with trigger laws, but people in those states can still have abortion pills shipped through international groups like Aid Access. Facebook could prevent that information from getting to some people who need it, especially since it marks messages with “mail” and “abortion pills,” even for international users. We posted from outside the US and still got a warning. “Some items are not regulated everywhere,” says the slide explaining our violation, “but because Facebook is borderless, we have global standards that apply to everyone.”
The New York Times also recently reported that Facebook’s parent company, Meta, had told employees not to discuss the Supreme Court ruling in the workplace. However, Meta told employees it would reimburse them for travel expenses if they needed access to health care and reproductive services out of state “to the extent permitted by law.” Moderators reportedly raided and quickly deleted posts about abortion on the company’s internal Workplace platform.
All products recommended by Engadget have been selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories contain affiliate links. We may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through one of these links.