Facebook and Instagram have immediately begun removing posts offering abortion pills to women who may not be able to access them following a Supreme Court decision that stripped away constitutional protections for the procedure.
Such social media posts were apparently aimed at helping women living in states where pre-existing laws banning abortion suddenly went into effect on Friday. It was then that the high court overturned Roe v. Wade, his 1973 decision that declared access to abortion a constitutional right.
Memes and status updates explaining how women can legally get abortion pills through the mail exploded on social platforms. Some have even offered to mail prescriptions to women who live in states that now ban the procedure.
Almost immediately, Facebook and Instagram began removing some of these posts, just as millions of people in the US were seeking clarity on abortion access.
General mentions of abortion pills, as well as posts mentioning specific versions such as mifepristone and misoprostol, surged Friday morning on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and television broadcasts, according to an analysis by intelligence firm Zignal Labs media.
By Sunday, Zignal had counted more than 250,000 such mentions.
Globe Live Media obtained a screenshot Friday of an Instagram post by a woman offering to buy or mail abortion pills, minutes after the court ruled to revoke the constitutional right to abortion.
“DM me if you want to order abortion pills but want them shipped to my address instead of yours,” the Instagram post read.
Instagram removed it within moments. Vice Media first reported Monday that Meta, the father of Facebook and Instagram, was removing posts about abortion pills.
On Monday, a Globe Live Media reporter tested how the company would respond to a similar Facebook post, writing: “If you send me your address, I’ll send you abortion pills.”
The post was deleted within a minute.
The Facebook account was immediately placed on “warning” status for the post, which Facebook said violated its standards on “weapons, animals, and other regulated property.”
However, when the Globe Live Media reporter made the exact same post but changed the words “abortion pills” to “a gun,” the post remained intact. A post with the exact same offer to submit “weed” was also left and was not considered a violation.
Marijuana is illegal under federal law and it is illegal to send it through the mail.
Abortion pills, however, can be obtained legally by mail after an online consultation from prescribers who have received certification and training.
In an email, a Meta spokesperson pointed to company policies that prohibit the sale of certain items, including weapons, alcohol, drugs and pharmaceuticals. The company did not explain the apparent discrepancies in the application of that policy.
Meta spokesman Andy Stone confirmed in a tweet Monday that the company will not allow people to give away or sell pharmaceuticals on its platform, but will allow content that shares information about how to access pills. Stone acknowledged some problems enforcing that policy on his platforms, which include Facebook and Instagram.
“We have discovered some cases of misapplication and are correcting them,” Stone said in the tweet.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday that states should not ban mifepristone, the drug used to induce an abortion.
“States cannot ban mifepristone if they disagree with the FDA’s expert judgment on its safety and efficacy,” Garland said in a statement Friday.
But some Republicans have already tried to prevent their residents from getting abortion pills through the mail, and some states like West Virginia and Tennessee bar providers from prescribing the drug through telemedicine visits.