The Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) is a national network of more than 700,000 pro-life Americans. The group’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, launched the group to help pro-life women win elected office.
Facebook deleted multiple ads from the Susan B. Anthony List, just before the 2018 midterm elections. One of the ads contrasted Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen’s support for taxpayer-funded abortion with Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn’s support for ending partial-birth abortion.
“SBA List has faced repeated censorship over the last few weeks and now our ad supporting Marsha Blackburn has been disapproved, even after more than 90,000 had viewed it. Facebook must immediately stop its censorship of pro-life speech. All the information presented in our ads has been factual, if surprising to those unwilling to face the reality of pro-abortion extremism. Facebook is censoring the truth and political free speech,” Dannenfelser said at the time.
Facebook blocked another two SBA List ads as well. The videos shared the stories of two babies, Charlotte and Micah, who survived premature births. Facebook dinged them for violating policies against “sensational” content. As far as pro-life ads go, they were pretty boilerplate, but that was still too extreme for Facebook’s speech police. Only after intense public pressure from conservative media did Facebook reverse course and apologize for the “mistake.”
In October 2017, Twitter blocked an SBA List advertisement from running because it contained the words “killing babies.” As Dannenfelser recounted: “No advertiser is permitted to use the phrase ‘killing babies.’ That’s what Twitter told us when they censored one of our videos.” The objective truth about abortion, however, is it kills an unborn baby. Twitter would rather people didn’t see that truth.
“Some organizations seem determined to censor the pro-life message. The people who run these mega-companies manipulate the national discussion to conform to their political leanings and use their platforms to steer public opinion in their favor,” Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs warned in a January 2018 op-ed. It’s only gotten worse since then.
Facebook blocked producers of the movie “Roe v. Wade” from buying ads promoting their film.35 The movie was notable for taking a pro-life and anti-Planned Parenthood perspective. Once again, Planned Parenthood’s allies came to the rescue. They’ve done so repeatedly.
In 2017, Twitter blocked a Blackburn campaign video, hiding “behind the farcical argument that her pro-life rhetoric was ‘inflammatory’ and that it could ‘evoke a strong negative reaction,’” noted the Washington Examiner’s Becket Adams. At the same time, Twitter allowed ReproAction, a pro-abortion political group, to buy inflammatory ads urging Twitter to bar Blackburn from buying pro-life ads.
The Texas-based pro-life group Human Coalition has repeatedly seen its content censored by tech companies. On February 21, 2018, Twitter removed three pro-life Human Coalition ads for allegedly violating company policies against “inappropriate content” and placed the group’s advertising privileges “under review.”
Twitter informed Human Coalition the group would receive an email “when the review is complete.” That email came March 22: Human Coalition’s account was suspended from running ads—any ads—on Twitter. Human Coalition appealed, but to no avail. Five days later, I reached out to Twitter’s press team and asked three questions:
- What, specifically, was the policy violation that led to this action?
- It’s my understanding that Planned Parenthood (@PPFA) is eligible to run advertisements. Is that the case?
- If so, what is the difference between @PPFA and @HumanCoalition?
Two hours after my email to Twitter, Human Coalition received a surprise update: Twitter reversed their suspension and cleared them to run ads again. Twitter assured me that the timing was a coincidence. Anyone familiar with Big Tech’s handling of censorship knows better.
Among Facebook’s fact-checking partners (more on that in the next chapter) is a left-wing outlet called Health Feedback. To give you an example of how this bias manifests in fact checks, consider what happened when Health Feedback evaluated a Live Action video that asserted, “abortion is never medically necessary.”
To “fact check” that claim, the left-wing fact checker turned to—who else?—left-wing abortionists. Among them: Dr. Jennifer Gunter, an abortionist who openly advocates for pro-lifers to be censored online, and who had attacked Live Action President Lila Rose as “ignorant and evil.” An investigation by the International Fact-Checking Network (yes, that’s a real thing) found that Health Feedback’s fact check of Live Action for Facebook “fell short” of the IFCN’s standards.
Big Tech’s hostility to pro-lifers isn’t terribly surprising in light of how close it is with Planned Parenthood and the rest of the abortion industry. Google employees openly support and fundraise for Planned Parenthood inside the company.
“Employees at Google organized to raise funds for Planned Parenthood and launched internal initiatives under the Tech Stands with Planned Parenthood campaign,” Planned Parenthood’s 2016-2017 annual report noted. “Many other tech supporters have continued to show their support through local partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates, hosting matching campaigns, and more,” the report said.
Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg is a longtime donor to Planned Parenthood and donated $1 million to the abortion giant in early 2017. In June 2019, Sandberg announced she was making another million-dollar donation—this time to Planned Parenthood’s political arm. Sandberg cited the recent wave of state-level pro-life bills as her reason for the donation. “I think this is a very urgent moment where the rights and the choices and the basic health of the most vulnerable women—the women who have been marginalized, often women of color—are at stake,” the Facebook executive told the HuffPost. “And so all of us have to do our part to fight these draconian laws.”
Of course Sandberg is not alone at Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife donated $992 million in Facebook shares to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a leftist donor network that doles out millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood and its affiliates every year.
Rose told me that because Sandberg is “publicly aligning herself with the biggest pro-abortion corporation in the country, a scandal-ridden organization that is extreme in its political lobbying to expand abortion in this country …it’s no wonder that confidence in the words of these platforms is low.”
To Big Tech, Planned Parenthood and abortion are sacrosanct and should be promoted and protected at all costs. As for pro-life groups striving to inform people about the reality of abortion and about the moral case for defending human life, Big Tech thinks they need to be silenced.