Abortion debate in tech raises new censorship concerns on social media platforms
Following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, which returned the power to legislate abortion rights to states, several tech companies have been sued for banning users and removing content. posts that discuss methods of receiving abortion services or information for performing them. at home.
Roe v. Wade was a Supreme Court decision handed down in 1973, and although states had different laws regarding the specifics of permitted abortion services; the nation has never had to navigate such differing state abortion laws in the internet age.
Some states have suggested criminal persecution for people who violate state laws to access abortion services, making the legality of counseling offered online potentially risky for the host.
Most social media sites have a common sense rule preventing users from buying, selling, or trading pharmaceuticals, drugs, marijuana, and other controlled substances on their platforms. Some users have complained that simply discussing these options has resulted in their comments and accounts being moderated.
This has created a metaphorical minefield for tech companies controlling social media platforms. When do medical boards violate their community standards or become irresponsible to host?
A representative of Meta recently clarified that posts had been mistakenly moderated in recent days, but claimed they would still moderate content that violated their existing policy.
“Content that attempts to buy, sell, trade, give, request or give away pharmaceuticals is not permitted,” said Meta Communications representative Andy Stone. said. “Content that discusses the affordability and accessibility of prescription drugs is allowed. We have found instances of incorrect enforcement and are correcting them.”
Although some posts were mistakenly deleted, it is true that other posts clearly violated social media standards. Users offering to buy pills on behalf of other users and send them are becoming more common and have generally been removed. These posts violate the terms of service for companies like Meta, but users are upset nonetheless.
Tech companies need to perform a balancing act. On the one hand, they must respect the rights of their users to organize themselves and to interact legally with the platform. On the other hand, they must protect themselves from any liability.
Thus, users posting dangerous medical advice or offering services such as sending medicines put these companies at risk. However, some users say it’s less about accountability and the ability for tech companies to control the national debate.
Regardless of your stance on abortion, this dramatic case of moderation raises concerns about the biases of big tech companies and their ability to control the narrative around controversial issues.
To test perceived biases, a journalist with the Associated press carried out an experiment proposing to buy and sell several regulated articles. A post offering to buy and mail abortion pills was quickly deleted, while posts offering to buy and mail a gun or weed remained intact.
However, this could be because social media moderators are more vigilant on the topic of abortion due to the recent court ruling, instead of deliberately ignoring other posts which would also violate the content policy of ‘a website.
What do you think? Do social media companies have a responsibility to protect their users from unprofessional medical advice? Or does it allow big tech companies to impose their biases on conversations of national interest? Let us know in the comments!
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