HEALTH

Pinterest Bans Anti-Abortion Group Live Action For Spreading Misinformation

The site had blocked the group's content for several months before axing it.

Pinterest permanently suspended the major anti-abortion group Live Action from its platform on Tuesday, the group said, for spreading misinformation. The move by the typically noncontroversial company came as a surprise amid a wider discussion on how content should be regulated across social media platforms. 

“We don’t allow harmful misinformation on Pinterest,” read a screenshot of a message the group received from the site. “That includes medical misinformation and conspiracies that turn individuals and facilities into targets for harassment or violence,” continued the message, which Alison Centofante, Live Action’s director of external affairs, posted to Twitter. 

Abortion access is increasingly threatened across the country as several states have enacted severe restrictions, pressing a possible Supreme Court challenge to the 1973 abortion rights decision in Roe v. Wade.

While Pinterest said it does not comment on individual accounts or pins, a company representative confirmed to HuffPost that it had taken action against the group and that the message shared to Twitter was a legitimate suspension notice. 

Pinterest had, in fact, started blocking Live Action’s posts several months ago “so that it would not be possible to save Pins from their domain as we continue to work on preventing misinformation from coming onto Pinterest,” the representative said.

Live Action counts around 3 million followers across its social media pages.

In its message to the group, Pinterest explained it does not allow advice “that may have immediate and detrimental effects on a Pinner’s health or on public safety.” 

“We understand this policy may not be consistent with your views and appreciate your understanding of the need for us to enforce our Community Guidelines,” the message concluded. 

The anti-abortion group has responded by joining the chorus of other conservative voices who claim they are being censored on social media platforms for their views. 

Live Action’s founder and president, Lila Rose, called Pinterest’s move “the modern equivalent of book burning” in a Twitter post. Later she appeared on right-wing pundit Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program to discuss the situation. 

Pinterest declined to comment on which of Live Action’s posts violated its standards.

However, the group appears to use its other social media pages ― Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ― to spread faith-based messaging laced with dubious statistics.

One quote card posted to Facebook falsely states that “abortion is the only ‘medical procedure’ that aims for a 100% death rate of the patient,” which would refer to the woman obtaining the procedure. Another post refers to abortion as a “leading cause of death” in America, above heart disease.

Similar messaging appears on Live Action’s other social media pages.

According to the progressive watchdog group Media Matters, a disproportionate amount of abortion-related content on Facebook comes from right-leaning websites ― which was often found to push anti-abortion misinformation. Live Action and another group, LifeNews.com, accounted for nearly 30% of popular links analyzed by Media Matters so far this year.

Before Live Action was banned from Pinterest outright, Project Veritas, a right-wing group that posts leaked documents and undercover videos, posted what it claimed were internal Pinterest documents indicating that Live Action had been added to a list of blocked pornography websites.

But a Pinterest representative told HuffPost that the label was not reflective of what the anti-abortion group was actually punished for posting.

“It appeared that our technology that enforces some of these policies was named years ago to combat porn but has expanded to a variety of content despite retaining its original internal name. We are updating our internal labeling to make this more clear,” the representative said.

Asked what other steps the company was taking to prevent health-related misinformation from spreading, Pinterest said it was focused on eliminating the “promotion of false cures for terminal or chronic illnesses and anti-vaccination advice.”

The company cited such institutions as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization as resources it uses to determine what is and is not accurate.

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