Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said during an interview with Axios on Thursday that Planned Parenthood does not sell baby body parts.
Sandberg joined Axios to talk about what advertisements are running on Facebook, the process to get an ad onto the social media platform, and their influence in the 2016 presidential election.
"We don’t allow hate, we don’t allow violence, we don’t allow bullying, and we work hard to get that stuff down," Sandberg said regarding the content allowed in Facebook advertising and content. "And we know enforcement is always hard, and we need to do better and are investing."
Sandberg said the main thing they do allow on Facebook is to let people express themselves.
"When you allow free expression, you allow free expression," She said. "And that means you allow other people to say things that you don’t like and go against your core beliefs. And it’s not just content, it’s ads, because when you’re thinking about political speech, ads are really important."
Sandberg noted that this was an interesting conversation to be having this week considering Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s (R., Tenn.) Senate campaign announcement ad was taken down from Twitter because of an "inflammatory" pro-life statement. In the ad, Blackburn heralded her work to stop "the sale of baby body parts," a reference to her investigation into Planned Parenthood's reported practice of "donating" body parts, obtained through abortion, in return for monetary compensation.
Mike Allen, Axios co-founder and interview host, asked Sandberg if she believed Twitter made a mistake by taking down Blackburn’s advertisement.
"So, Twitter took down the ad and put it back up," Sandberg said. "In that ad, there’s a lot of positions that people don’t like, that I don’t like. I am a staunch supporter of reproductive rights, a staunch supporter of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is not selling baby body parts."
Sandberg made her comments in defense of Planned Parenthood even though video evidence was released in 2014 where a Planned Parenthood executive discussed the cost of "specimens" obtained following an abortion. Planned Parenthood partners were also charged for illegal profits made off of the sale of baby body parts in 2016.
Despite her views, Sandberg said she would be okay with an advertisement like Blackburn’s running on Facebook because "when you cut off speech for one person, you cut off speech for all people."
Sandberg said when Twitter initially took down the ad and said Blackburn could only run the free content, they made a mistake.
"We all know her ability to get that message out does depend on having access to ads, which is why we allow issue-based ads," Sandberg said. "I think the responsibility of an open platform is to let people express themselves. We don’t check the information people put on Facebook before they run it, and I don’t think any one should want us to do that."