Facebook has reinstated the page of a pro-choice group that helps women access abortion pills hours after it was banned for breaking the site’s rules.
The social network blocked the Amsterdam-based Women on Web group on Thursday for violating its policies against “promoting and encouraging drug use”. But it soon backtracked, apologising to the group and saying it was blocked “in error”.
Women on Web helps women in countries where abortion is restricted access pills so they can conduct the procedure themselves. It offers advice on ways to access abortion pills and connects them with international doctors who can help.
Facebook’s guidelines say it will block attempts to “purchase, sell or trade prescription drugs, marijuana, firearms or ammunition” on its network.
Women on Web said it doesn’t promote drug use but supports human rights and provides “life-saving information” to women in countries where these are restricted.
“We expect Facebook will undo this action soon enough, as access to information is a human right,” said its sister organisation Women on Waves.
“The Facebook page publishes news, scientific information and the protocols of the World Health Organisation and Women on Web has answered over half a million emails with women who need scientific, accurate information essential for their health and life.”
“Facebook is a place for people and organisations to campaign for the things that matter to them,” said Facebook. “Women on Web is an example of that. In this instance the account was disabled in error but has now been restored. We apologise for this and for any inconvenience caused.”
The incident isn’t the first time Facebook has backtracked on a decision to censor the group’s work. It briefly blocked the account of Women on Web’s founder and director, Dr Rebecca Gomperts, back in 2012 after she repeatedly posted an imaged that showed how to use the Misoprostol drug to induce an abortion.
The social network soon issued an apology and reinstated the picture and her account.
Facebook has been forced to U-turn on similar issues. Last year it was accused of abuse of power after it censored a newspaper’s use of the Vietnam war “napalm girl” photo. The company initially said the image violated its policies but then reinstated it.