Anti-Abortion Ads Are Growing on Facebook and Instagram

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Ads containing false information about abortion are allowed to run on Facebook and Instagram in countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, as licensed medical providers struggle to get theirs approved, a new study has found.

The report, released today from the Center for Counting Digital Hate and MSI Reproductive Choices, a global health care provider, gathered experiences from Vietnam, Nepal, Ghana, Mexico, Kenya, and Nigeria. Between 2019 and 2024 in Ghana and Mexico alone, researchers found 187 anti-abortion ads on Meta platforms that were viewed up to 8.8 million times.

Many of these ads were placed by foreign anti-abortion groups. Americans United for Life, a US-based nonprofit whose website says the abortion pill is “unsafe and unjust,” and Tree of Life Ministries, an evangelical church now based in Israel, were both linked to the ad. Researchers also found that ads published by groups “outside the country where the ad was advertised were viewed 4.2 million times.”

In the report, researchers found that some ads linked to websites like Americans United for Life, whose website describes abortion as a “business” that is “unsafe” for women. Abortion pills are widely considered safe and effective less causing more death than both penicillin and Viagra. Some advertisements, such as those run by the Mexican group Context.co, linked to Substack dedicated to the theme that there is a secret international system to deceive Mexicans and force abortions in the country.

One advertiser in Mexico said that abortion services “were financed from abroad … to destroy the Mexican people.” Another warned that women could suffer “significant complications” from using the abortion pill.

Meta spokesman Ryan Daniels told WIRED that the company allows “posts and ads that promote health care, as well as discussion and debate around it,” but content about reproductive health “must follow our rules,” including only allowing reproductive health ads to run. people over 18 years old.

“This is the money Meta is taking to spread lies, conspiracy theories, and propaganda,” says Imran Khan, CEO of the Center for Counting Digital Hate.

In these countries, where Meta more relationships and local telecom companies that allow users to access its platforms for free, Facebook is the main source of information. Some of these ads also took place on Instagram. “Anyone with a cell phone can get a lot of information. People use it to find work. When we ask customers how did you hear about us? most of them mention Facebook, because they live on Facebook. That’s where they know how to look for information,” said Whitney Chinogwenya, marketing manager at MSI Reproductive Choices. So if misinformation is rampant on the platform, the effects can spread.

“Good health saves lives. By actively helping spread misinformation and suppressing good information,” says Khan, “[Meta is] endangering the lives of people in those countries and showing that they value foreign lives more than American lives.”

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