Meta said it's working to correct enforcement errors that led to the removal of Facebook posts related to abortion pills and suspensions of user accounts behind the posts. The clarification came after Motherboard discovered that Facebook was instantly removing posts that said "abortion pills can be mailed," which the FDA legalized in 2021.
"Content that attempts to buy, sell, trade, gift, request or donate pharmaceuticals is not allowed. Content that discusses the affordability and accessibility of prescription medication is allowed," Meta spokesperson Andy Stone tweeted in response to the story. "We've discovered some instances of incorrect enforcement and are correcting these."
Facebook's policies prohibit "attempts to buy, sell or trade pharmaceutical drugs," except when the seller is a "legitimate healthcare e-commerce business." These policies have been constantly evolving over the years, particularly in light of the pandemic, which opened the door to telehealth services across the U.S. Now telemedicine is expected to play an important role in providing abortion care to people in states where abortion will be banned or severely restricted. And the ability to share information online about accessing abortion pills by mail is critical to that work.
Still, Facebook and other online platforms are now operating in uncharted legal territory, where individual states are seeking to outlaw mailing the abortion pill mifepristone, while Attorney General Merrick Garland has said such bans are prohibited. That could set up another legal fight between states and the federal government.
Even as Facebook works to correct whatever enforcement problems led to the abortion pill posts being blocked, Meta and other platforms must also grapple with what to do about abortion misinformation, including a slew of Facebook ads that claim abortion pills are reversible or dangerous, despite medical guidance to the contrary. Meta spokesperson Dani Lever previously told Protocol that ads and posts about abortion will be eligible for fact-checking by third parties.
"Posts debunked by our independent third-party fact-checking partners will appear lower in Feed, be filtered out of Explore on Instagram and be featured less prominently in Feed and Stories so fewer people see them," Lever said. "We also prohibit ads that include misinformation, mislead people about the services a business provides or repeatedly use shocking imagery to further a point of view."