Social Media

Abortion Pill Organization Temporarily Booted Off Facebook

The reason the company gave was "promotion or encouragement of drug use"

Social Media
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May 12, 2017 at 10:21 AM ET

An Amsterdam-based group for women’s reproductive rights had its page shut down by Facebook for over 24 hours for violating the site’s terms regarding the “promotion or encouragement of drug use,” according to the Guardian. The drug in question was not a recreational drug, but the pill used for medical, or non-surgical, abortions.

The group behind the page, Women on Web, is an international collective of “women who have had abortions, medical doctors, researchers, individuals, and organizations that support abortion rights,” per their website. Women on Web aims to help supply women facing an unwanted pregnancy in areas where access to safe abortion is restricted with access to abortion pills.

The page, which is used to share news articles concerning reproductive freedom and has over 10,500 Facebook “likes” and followers, was restored on Friday morning. Members of the group’s sister organization, Women on Waves, which is most famous for sailing its medically equipped ship into international waters and bringing women aboard to perform abortions, publicly decried Facebook’s decision during the time the page was inaccessible.

“Women on Web provides life-saving information to thousands of women worldwide. Its Facebook page publishes news, scientific information and the protocols of the World Health Organization and Women on Web has answered over half a million emails to women who needed scientific, accurate information essential for their health and life,” Women on Waves wrote on its Facebook page on Thursday. “We expect Facebook will undue this action soon enough, as access to information is a human right.”

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The group later noted that Women on Web had appealed its shut down with Facebook in a separate post.

“We appreciate so much all the support from many persons and organizations who have spoken up for freedom of expression and the human rights of women,” the moderators of Women on Web wrote after the page was restored on Friday morning. “We will keep publishing life-saving info to everyone who needs them.”

Facebook has also censored Women on Web founder Rebecca Gomperts in the past, temporarily blocking her account after she posed a photo that contained directions for taking the drug Misoprostol for inducing an abortion, according to the Guardian.

Content moderation is something the social media site has recently committed to ramping up, adding more moderators to manually peruse content that violates Facebook’s policy. This includes the promotion or sale of drugs. However, a  cursory look at Facebook’s pages turn up various pages for drugs that can be taken recreationally, such as Ambien, Ketamine, and cannabis.

Facebook did not respond to Vocativ’s inquiry regarding the temporary removal of Women on Web by the time of publication.