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Civil society to Meta: Stop censoring reproductive rights content

Update: September 1, 2022 — Meta did not reply to civil society’s outreach by the August 31 deadline. Access Now will continue to advocate for uncensored access to information on reproductive rights for all.

August 17, 2022: Access Now, Amnesty International USA, Fight for the Future, Human Rights Watch, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America are calling on Meta to come clean in regards to its dangerous censorship of reproductive rights content in a post-Roe world.

In the weeks following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, reports began to emerge detailing cases where Meta censored reproductive health-related information in the United States, including posts and hashtags that used the words “abortion pills” and abortion medication “mifepristone.”

Then news broke that Facebook turned over the messages of a teenager in Nebraska to law enforcement over charges that she broke a state law banning abortions after 20 weeks.

These cases are incredibly alarming when it comes to Meta, its platforms, and how (or if) it intends to protect peoples’ rights to seek, receive, and impart information related to sexual and reproductive health. While the company has made public comments about plans to protect its employees’ access to reproductive healthcare, it has not said if it will do the same for the millions of people who use its platforms in the U.S.

Civil society calls on the company to clarify how and why Meta’s Community Standards and other policies led to the removal of abortion-related content, and to assess whether these policies contravene the human right to abortion.

“Meta’s censorship of information on abortion and reproductive health is jeopardizing the safety and human rights of millions across the U.S.,” said Jennifer Brody (she/her), U.S. Policy and Advocacy Manager at Access Now. “People need the power and knowledge to make informed decisions about their bodies and their lives — Meta must decide now if it will be on the right side of history.”

It is absolutely critical that Meta lives up to its human rights responsibilities and ensures that all users have access to reproductive rights-related content, including information about medication abortion and how to access abortion services,” said Michael Kleinman (he/him), Director of Amnesty International’s Silicon Valley Initiative.

“Meta has demonstrated that it has no policy in place to defend peoples’ right to abortion on its platforms,” said Caitlin Seeley George (she/her), Director of Campaigns at Fight for the Future. “Time and again the company has deflected the question, but users of Facebook and Instagram have the right to know whether or not the company is going to defend their human rights or if it plans to roll over under the current, anti-abortion regime.”

Read the full letter.