Facebook quelled a public relations flap over abortion last week when the social networking site pulled instructions for a do-it-yourself abortion from the page of the Dutch group Women on Waves.
The women’s rights organization posted a graphic detailing how to terminate a pregnancy using the drug misoprostol, commonly prescribed to treat ulcers.
The instructions were meant for women who live in countries where abortion is prohibited.
The Atlantic Wire explains how misoprostol used in combination with another drug, mifeprex, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for ending first-term pregnancies.
While Women on Waves doesn’t explicitly describe how to use misoprostol and mifeprex together, the group calls the combination the “best and safest way a woman can do an abortion herself” on its website.
The problems started on December 30, when Women on Waves reported that Facebook removed a link to the abortion instructions.
Once journalists and blogs started reporting the company’s actions, Facebook promptly followed up with an apology yesterday.
The policy-enforcement “team looks at hundreds of thousands of reports every week, and as you might expect, occasionally, we make a mistake and remove a piece of content we shouldn’t have,” Facebook wrote. A copy of the full statement appears beneath this post.
The P.R. flap is reminiscent of what happened when Apple launched Siri late last year. Customers complained that they couldn’t search for abortion clinics using the software, which was widely reported in the media and blogs. Apple attributed the bug to a kink in the software, not any sort of corporate-wide abortion bias.
Readers, do you think Facebook handled this situation appropriately?