May 29, 2024

NY Governor Calls on Facebook to Crack Down on Pro-Lifers

Madeline Leesman

Madeline Leesman | Posted: Sep 14, 2021 1:30 PM

This week, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) called on Facebook to take steps to combat “misinformation” regarding abortion in the wake of Texas’ “heartbeat” abortion ban, S.B. 8, taking effect earlier this month. 

In a letter penned to Mark Zuckerberg, chairman and CEO of Facebook, Hochul applauded the tech giant’s efforts to stop the spread of misinformation on issues such as COVID-19 and vaccines. However, Hochul believes that abortion should be at the forefront of misinformation prevention efforts on the platform as well.

“There is another critical medical issue that is the subject of rampant falsehoods and misinformation – and it is one that is equally dangerous to the health and safety of our communities if left unchecked,” the letter opens. “Each day, posts are liked and shared on your site that make false claims about abortion procedures and reproductive health legislation, and this misinformation has hit close to home.”

Hochul explained how misinformation surrounding abortion, in New York, specifically, unearthed in the midst of enacting the New York State Reproductive Health Act. RHA is a statute that expanded abortion rights in the state. It was introduced and enacted in January of 2019.

“An analysis of Facebook engagement between January 1 and March 20, 2019 found that four of the top 10 stories receiving the most engagement on the platform were articles about the New York State Reproductive Health Act from anti-choice news sources that represent the bill,” the letter claims. Specific examples from 2019 regarding “misinformation” regarding the New York State RHA, which was developed to “codify” Roe v. Wade protections into state law, were not provided in the letter.

“These articles, memes, and other shared posts often describe horrific procedures that have no basis in reality, cite entirely made-up studies, and purposefully inflate or misrepresent public health data,” the letter continues. “The goal behind these posts is clear: to sow fear, confusion, and shame, and to advance an agenda to control women’s bodies.”

Hochul then referred to the law S.B. 8 in Texas, which took effect earlier this month. The law prohibits abortion in the state after fetal heartbeat detection, which occurs approximately six weeks in preganancy. Given this, the Governor claims she is “increasingly concerned” for women in states like Texas seeking “guidance” regarding abortion.

“With the recent abortion ban in Texas and associated widespread interest, I am increasingly concerned that more and more of these posts will be created and shared across Facebook,” Hochul said in the letter. “At a time when women in Texas and other states with restrictive laws are looking for guidance, these posts can make women in need of abortion care feel unsafe and alone.”

The letter wraps up with requests for Facebook to provide information on “any and all existing efforts to combat misinformation regarding abortion laws, procedures, and their availability.” Additionally, she requests that Facebook put forth more of an effort to curb “misinformation” regarding abortion, “as Facebook has with information related to COVID-19, vaccines, and voting rights,” the letter states.

“The truth is that abortion is a safe, common medical procedure,” the letter concludes. “I am proud that New York is leading the fight to ensure that every woman and birthing person has access to abortion care.”

Source: NY Governor Calls on Facebook to Crack Down on Pro-Lifers (