Hochul tells Facebook to ‘clean up the act’ on abortion misinformation after Texas law


New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) called on Facebook to “clean up the act” on abortion misinformation on Monday, as part of her state’s response to Texas’s “fetal heartbeat” abortion ban. 

The new governor said at a briefing that New York is sending a letter to Facebook on Monday requesting the social media giant’s assistance in “a war against misinformation” about abortion, as well as COVID-19 vaccines.  

“I’m asking Facebook starting today to help clean up the act, help us wage a campaign of truth and not lies, with respect to what is going on in Texas and what is going on here in the state of New York because misinformation spreads like wildfire,” she said.

“We’ll see what they do with it,” Hochul said, referring to the letter. “I’ll be watching, and let them know we have expectations.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

New York has had previous experience with misinformation around abortion legislation.

In the weeks following the passage of New York’s Reproductive Health Act in 2019, Hochul noted, people were “reading lies on social media,” with four of the top 10 stories on Facebook misrepresenting the state bill, which expanded abortion rights and eliminated several abortion restrictions. 

“I want to make sure as we enter this new chapter after what the Supreme Court upheld on Sept. 1 is that we ensure we don’t allow those lies to continue — that there’s accountability and responsibility at the top of those companies to help tell the truth across this nation,” Hochul said.

The Supreme Court declined to block the Texas law as it went into effect earlier this month, sparking concern among activists about the future of reproductive rights in the country. 

“Undeniably this Texas decision is abhorrent,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said at the press conference. “I can’t imagine a worse decision for women.”

The Lone Star State’s legislation prohibits abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, which can happen as early as six weeks, before some women know they are pregnant. The law empowers private citizens to sue those who assist in or conduct abortions, and those who file successful lawsuits can get at least $10,000.

In response to the Texas legislation, Hochul said she plans to address “unfinished business” with the state’s Reproductive Health Act to improve reproductive rights and access.

Specifically, she directed all state agencies to launch a public information campaign on abortions for New Yorkers and visitors. Hochul also called for the development of a patient bill of rights and provider guidance on abortion care. 

The New York governor said the state is working on updating regulations “as soon as possible” to allow abortion medications to be available through telemedicine 

“I will say now that I’m in charge, there will be no more delays in getting the regulations out,” she said. “We are looking at the regulations and making sure that they’re crystal clear, and we’ll be announcing more on that.”

Hochul replaced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) last month after he resigned amid sexual misconduct allegations. 

Tags Abortion abortion rights Andrew Cuomo Facebook Kathy Hochul Kirsten Gillibrand misinformation New York Social media Texas Texas abortion ban
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