Fight for the Future condemns Facebook for banning abortion defenders, calls for the preservation of Section 230’s protections for the reproductive justice movement

June 28, 2022

Yesterday, Motherboard’s Joseph Cox and Jordan Pearson reported that Facebook is banning users who offer to mail abortion pills and removing posts saying that abortion pills can be mailed. The following statement can be attributed to Lia Holland (they/she), Campaigns & Communications Director at digital rights organization Fight for the Future:

“No doubt fearing lawsuits under oppressive forced-birth laws, Facebook is banning people who say they will send abortion pills to pregnant people who need them.

Abortion pills—which can be mailed—are a critical component of the post-Roe landscape. These simple, safe, and effective pills will save lives and return some measure of reproductive autonomy to pregnant people who live in one of over two dozen states where abortion is now or soon to be criminalized.

Then last night, through my own Instagram account, I found an image that was censored for “violent and graphic” content. When I clicked through to verify my age, I discovered it was of a hand holding an Amnesty International protest sign that reads “Abortion is a Human Right.”

Facebook’s censorship of critical reproductive healthcare information and advocacy should be a massive, code-red warning to Democrats who want to revise or repeal Section 230. In a post-Roe environment, litigation-fearing platforms will cover their hides by tearing down online access to abortion healthcare and support.

We’ve seen this sort of online censorship before. 2018’s SESTA/FOSTA caused the mass takedown of sex workers’ vetting tools and communications platforms, forcing many workers into riskier environments. People have died because of this bad bill

If Democrats continue in their schemes to weaken the free speech protections in Section 230 under the guise of “punishing Big Tech,” both platform censorship and donation deplatforming will balloon—and become more deadly. Democrat-supported carve outs of our digital free speech rights like the EARN IT Act, Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency Act, SAFE TECH Act, and Justice Against Malicious Algorithms Act would essentially end the reproductive justice movement online. In a post-Roe environment, information about abortion sanctuary states, contraception choices, and more would be taken down and automatically censored. Donation processing for abortion funds would end. LGBTQ+ books and information on gender-affirming healthcare will all be on the chopping block too. 

Democrats need to get their heads out of the sand. No matter how noble the intentions, calls to change Section 230 will exclusively benefit pro-censorship fascists on the Christian right who have been attempting to litigate morality for decades

Facebook’s actions show once again that we cannot trust these Big Tech companies to be the defenders of our free speech. If Section 230 shrinks or disappears, Facebook and other tech companies will go further—algorithmically censoring essential resources and support for pregnant people, especially those in marginalized communities

Facebook’s egregious takedown of reproductive healthcare posts is the tip of the iceberg. Without Section 230, every web hosting service, CDN, payment processor, crowdfunding site, and social media platform could face a tidal wave of anti-abortion lawsuits. 

Digital infrastructure has become essential to our lives and our healthcare. Amending Section 230 would make it a weapon for repression instead.”