Technology

Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism

Facebook has removed a fact check from a video posted by an anti-abortion group after Republican senators accused the platform of censorship.

The moves comes after the group, Live Action, as well as Republican lawmakers, complained after Facebook's third-party fact-checkers deemed that a video in which the group's president, Lila Rose, claims that "abortion is never medically necessary" was inaccurate.

They argued that the fact check was not impartial because two of the physicians involved in reviewing the claim had ties to abortion rights groups.

The fact check was published by the group Health Feedback, part of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), which is partnered with Facebook to crack down on misinformation on the platform. Health Feedback's reviews rated Rose's claim as inaccurate, saying, "Certain medical conditions such as placenta previa and HELLP syndrome can make abortion a necessary medical procedure in order to prevent the mother's death."

Live Action said that after the fact check was posted late last month, the group was notified by Facebook that its page's content would be subject to "reduced distribution and other restrictions because of repeated sharing of false news."

After a group of Republican senators, including Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday with accusations of politically motivated censorship, the social media company removed the fact check from Live Action's posts.  

"We have been in touch with the IFCN which has opened an investigation to determine whether the fact checkers who rated this content did so by following procedures designed to ensure impartiality," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "While the IFCN investigates, we are removing the relevant fact checks and have communicated this to the members of the US Senate who brought this specific concern to our attention."

The GOP senators had argued that the incident fit a "pattern of censorship" from Facebook, echoing the Republican Party's unproven accusations that the company and other social media platforms are seeking to silence right-wing voices.

Daniel Grossman, an OB-GYN and researcher at the University of California-San Francisco who helped write the fact check, told The Hill that he is disappointed that Facebook decided to take it down while it investigates.

"I think it's reasonable if they want to investigate this further, but in the meantime they should take down her videos as well - they are so full of misinformation that they're really dangerous," Grossman said, adding that he has personally performed life-saving abortion procedures.

"It's just very interesting that this is a question about medical care but it's turned into a debate with politicians and advocates on one side and physicians on the other," he added. "At the moment, the politicians and advocates seem to be winning."

- Updated at 1:07 p.m.

Outbrain