Abortion Groups Say Tech Companies Suppress Posts and Accounts

TikTok has briefly suspended the account of Hey Jane, a prominent telemedicine abortion service, four times without explanation. Instagram has suspended Mayday Health, a nonprofit that provides information about abortion pill access, without explanation as well. And the search engine Bing has erroneously flagged the website for Aid Access, a major seller of abortion pills online, as unsafe.

The groups and women’s health advocates say these examples, all from recent months, show why they are increasingly confused and frustrated by how major technology platforms moderate posts about abortion services.

They say the companies’ policies on abortion-related content, including advertisements, have long been opaque. But they say the platforms seem to have been more aggressive about removing or suppressing posts that share information about how to obtain safe and legal procedures since the Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to abortion in 2022. And when the platforms do restrict the accounts, the companies can be difficult to contact to learn why.

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, an organization dedicated to abolishing abortion, said big technology companies had routinely limited its and other groups’ pro-life speech, suspending accounts and blocking ads with little explanation.

“Transparency is the main point,” said Jane Eklund, a fellow at the human rights group Amnesty International USA, which released a report on Tuesday calling on tech giants to clearly outline and explain their rules around abortion-related content. “Without clear guidelines, it’s difficult to hold them accountable for their actions that could be impacting users or to identify and address any content moderation that affects what people can find online.”

Concerns that some of the tech platforms are suppressing posts about abortion have led to changes in how women and organizations talk about it online. They intentionally misspell the term as “aborshun” or “ab0rti0n,” or replace the “bor” with a boar emoji in hopes of reaching more people.

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