Facebook censorship on women’s reproductive rights


Kim Phuc just after the bombing, photo by Nick Ut

In September 2016, Facebook censored this famous 1972 photo, of Vietnamese children burnt by napalm bombing, including Kim Phuc, then a 9-year-old badly injured girl.

Facebook deleted the photo from, eg, the Facebook page of Norwegian conservative Prime Minister Ms Erna Solberg.

Now, more Facebook antics.

By Jon Queally in the USA:

May 12, 2017

Access Denied: Facebook Blocks Abortion Pill Provider’s Page for ‘Promotion of Drug Use’

‘WTF Facebook?!’ say supporters of international group that provides reproductive health information and access to abortion pills in countries where it remains illegal

As of late Thursday night, Facebook has yet to explain why it has blocked the page of a women’s health organization that provides abortion counseling and drug access to thousands of women across the globe each day. And reproductive rights advocates from around the world are not happy about it.

News that the Facebook page operated by Women on Web, which runs a global help desk for women seeking information on ending pregnancies safely and provides access to abortion pills, was first reported by its sister organization, Women on Waves, which operates a boat that travels the world providing medical care, including abortions, in places where access to such services for women is limited, highly restricted, or banned outright.

As their Facebook page remained active, Women on Waves on Thursday morning posted a message—alongside a screenshot of the notice received from Facebook which said the page had violated terms of service—to alert people to what had happened.

“Dear all,” the post reads, “our sister organization @WomenOnWeb.IF has been unpublished by Facebook under the accusation of ‘encouragement of drug use.'”

Defending its partner, the post described how the group, which is based in Amsterdam, “provides life-saving information to thousands of women worldwide” and that its page on Facebook “publishes news, scientific information and the protocols of the World Health Organization and Women on Web has answered over half a million emails with women who needed scientific, accurate information essential for their health and life.”

Supporters of the groups who commented on the post were outraged. “What the hell?” said one in reaction. Someone else added, “WTF Facebook?!”

Another suggested it was part of a larger and more troubling trend. “I’ve seen a lot of this lately,” the person wrote. “Extreme conservatives using loopholes in the fb algorithm processes to bully various pages and groups.”

Women on Web subsequently posted this message to its Twitter account:

‘Our FB page has been unpublished under the accusation of “encouraging drug use”. WoW is a reliable source of life-saving info to thousands.’

The Independent, which first reported the story, said that a Facebook spokesperson was “investigating the incident.” Later reporting by the Guardian said the social media giant did not immediately respond to its request for comment, nor was response given to requests submitted for this article.

As of this writing, the group’s Facebook page remains unavailable …

It still was at the time of making this blog post.

As the Guardian reports, this is not the first time that Women on Web has had problems with Facebook:

In January 2012, Facebook deleted the profile photograph of the group’s founder and director, Dr Rebecca Gomperts. The image contained instructions for inducing an abortion using Misoprostol. Gomperts was locked out of her account for two days after re-posting the image, but Facebook subsequently apologized and reinstated both the image and her account.

Thursday’s incident comes amid increased worries that large social media and web platforms—which have come to dominate the way digital content is shared and monetized on the web—are having an outsized and unaccountable role in how information is managed and controlled by private, for-profit corporations.

On Wednesday, Facebook announced new protocols regarding how it plans to deal with what it deems “low-quality web page experiences.” And while all people might agree they want to see less “low-quality” material or information on the web, serious concerns about censorship and bias quickly emerge when discussion moves towards what gets classified as “low-quality” and, perhaps more importantly, who gets to decide what meets that definition.

For its part, Women on Waves said it believed Facebook would rectify the situation with its sister organization before long.

“We expect Facebook will undue this action soon enough,” the group said in its post, “as access to information is a human right.”

Meanwhile on Twitter, users of one social media platform were condemning the behavior of another platform as they demanded Facebook reinstate the Women on Web page immediately.

Facebook violates privacy, Dutch privacy watchdog says: here.

Trump has dramatically expanded the “global gag rule” on abortion.

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3 thoughts on “Facebook censorship on women’s reproductive rights

  1. Friday 19th May 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Britain

    FACEBOOK was fined an “unprecedented” £94.5 million yesterday after an EU watchdog ruled that it had given misleading information in its £15.3 billion takeover of WhatsApp.

    The European Commission said that the US social network had falsely claimed that it was unable to combine user data between the two companies’ accounts.

    “Contrary to Facebook’s statements in the 2014 merger review process, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook and WhatsApp users’ identities already existed in 2014, and Facebook staff were aware of such a possibility,” the commission said.

    Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the sanction was “proportionate” and would send a clear message that companies must comply with EU merger rules.

    The fine was less than the permitted maximum of £211 million — 1 per cent of Facebook’s 2016 turnover— due to Facebook’s co-operation with the EU probe.

    Nicholas Levy, a merger expert at lawyers Cleary Gottlieb, said: “This is an unprecedented fine that dwarfs penalties imposed for similar infractions in the past.”

    However, the commission did not reverse its decision to approve the 2014 acquisition.

    http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-e8a8-EU-fines-Facebook-94m-for-lying-in-takeover-bid#.WR7httykIdU

  2. Pingback: Big Pharma billion dollar defraud of US taxpayers | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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