For immediate release: March 13, 2024


Digital rights and abortion advocates organized the large-scale visuals as part of a multi-day activation highlighting invasive Big Tech data collection, threats to abortion access, and the struggle for body freedom.

For the first four days of this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, March 8-11, Fight for the Future joined forces with For Freedoms, Plan C, Project for Empty Space, and Women on Web to demand Big Tech end its role in fueling abortion surveillance and censorship, and to uplift body freedom. The groups ran a mobile billboard around downtown Austin displaying bright, large-scale messages about combating Big Tech data harvesting and protecting abortion access. The frames also included past billboard designs by For Freedoms, as well as original artworks from the recently-launched Body Freedom for Every(Body), a multifaceted art activation by Project for Empty Space, celebrating reproductive justice, bodily autonomy, and queer liberation that will travel to different states in the months leading up to the 2024 election. 

In collaboration with the Austin art collective Essentials Creative, the curated artwork and messages were projected onto various buildings in downtown Austin, including the Hilton Downtown, the Marriott Downtown, the JW Marriott, the Hyatt House, and the Austin Convention Center.

Full selection of photos and videos available here.

Tech companies have a long history of participating in SXSW, and this year was no different. But as thousands of people are able to safely travel to Texas to attend SXSW, it’s hard to ignore the harsh dichotomy of Texas’ abortion ban and the many Texas border counties that have passed anti-abortion travel restrictions into law. Texas isn’t alone: on top of the 20+ laws that ban or severely restrict abortion access nationwide, a handful of lawmakers in Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Idaho now want to criminalize any person or group––like an abortion fund––that helps someone cross state lines for an abortion.

Many of the Big Tech platforms at SXSW are playing a role in enforcing these draconian bills, censoring information about accessing safe abortions, and turning over data used to criminalize people for violating state anti-abortion laws. As attacks on abortion and bodily autonomy increase, advocates fear that incidents of tech companies’ data serving as key evidence in anti-abortion lawsuits will also increase. 

“As a reproductive justice organizer living here in Texas, I’m deeply disturbed by the ways Big Tech companies are making grand statements in support of abortion access and gender affirming healthcare while at the same time collecting massive amounts of data on users––data that puts abortion seekers, providers, and facilitators in serious danger. Collecting, selling and sharing our data not only represents an enormous violation of privacy––it could also land someone in prison, simply for exercising their sacred right to bodily autonomy,” said Sarah Philips, a campaigner at Fight for the Future.    

Grassroots pressure has successfully pushed some companies to take steps to limit data collection and improve privacy features in the past, for example by protecting messages with default end-to-end encryption and reducing the invasive tracking of users’ locations. But others have blatantly disregarded demands for increased privacy protections. And without comprehensive legislation protecting data about who people talk to, what they search for, and where they go, people will continue to be at risk.

“We know that surveillance built on corporate data harvesting is how draconian anti-abortion laws will be enforced. Until Big Tech puts an end to their unnecessary and invasive data collection and stops censoring crucial information about accessing abortions, companies will continue to be directly complicit in the anti-abortion, anti-rights attacks sowing so much injustice and pain across this country,” said Leila Nashashibi, a campaigner at Fight for the Future. 

The large-scale graphics directed people to take action at, where supporters can sign an online petition calling on tech companies, lawmakers, and government agencies to do everything in their power to protect abortion facilitators, abortion seekers, and anyone exercising their right to bodily autonomy. The petition text and detailed demands can be viewed on the campaign page. The graphics were designed by Project for Empty Space in collaboration with Plan C, Fight for the Future, and designer Chantal Fischzang. 

The For Freedoms billboard designs and Project for Empty Space art include works by David Antonio Cruz, Amaryllis R. Flowers, Eric Hart Jr., Aurora James, Marilyn Minter, Sofía Gallisá Muriente, Zhaleh Phillips, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Thank God for Abortion, and Jasmine Wahi. 

On Sunday March 10, Plan C and Future Front Texas also partnered to transform The Future Front House into The Care House, a literal and figurative community salon and day of programming around reproductive justice including community-care panels featuring Project for Empty Space, Amnesty International USA, Fight for the Future, Fos Feminista, the Working Families Party, and FEMINIST, as well as a DJ Set and performance by a Future Front Artist, and an art exhibition featuring the Care Machine, Artist Autumn Breon’s latest installation, a traveling beauty and sexual health vending machine.