Four Senators Write Facebook Condemning Censorship of Pro-Life Group

Letter: Facebook relied on abortion activists for fact-checking

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg / Getty Images
September 11, 2019

Republican Sens. Josh Hawley (Mo.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Braun (Ind.), and Kevin Cramer (N.D.) sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday to condemn Facebook’s "so-called fact-check" of the pro-life group Live Action.

"Your company, like Twitter, Google, Pinterest and so many other major Silicon Valley social media firms, has been repeatedly confronted with evidence of bias against those with conservative viewpoints, especially on the issue of abortion," the senators' letter said. "And in response you have repeatedly insisted that these numerous incidents of discrimination, censorship, and suppression of speech are merely glitched, not evidence of systemic bias."

On Aug. 30, Facebook sent a fact-check notice to users who had shared Live Action videos stating "abortion is never medically necessary." Facebook sent thousands of notifications to the followers of Live Action president Lila Rose, notifying users that they had shared "false" content. One video shows Rose and the second features Dr. Kendra Kolb, a board-certified neonatologist.

The video of Rose shows her speaking on abortion at a Young America's Foundation event last month.

"Abortion is not medically necessary," Rose said. "Abortion, which is defined as the direct and intentionally killing of an embryo, a fetus, a baby in the womb, is not a medical treatment. Now what I mean to say then is that when you are treating a mother who has a high-risk pregnancy, who has complications, going in there to directly kill that child is not going to in any way, solve her problem, help her heal, be a treatment for what she’s experiencing."

Live Action has spoken against Facebook’s claim, asserting that the alerts were biased because the fact-checks were conducted by two abortionists: Daniel Grossman with Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health and Robyn Schickler with Physicians for Reproductive Health. Both are prominent pro-choice activists.

"This is clear cut discrimination towards the pro-life viewpoint," Rose said in Facebook Live video Tuesday. "What Facebook has done is very deceptive."

"No reasonable person would describe Grossman or Schickler as neutral or objective when it comes to the issue of abortion," the letter said. "Yet Facebook relied on their rating to suppress and censor a pro-life organization with more than 3 million followers. These are clear violations of the IFCN [International Fact-Checking Network] principle and of Facebook’s supposed commitment to non-partisanship."

The letter concludes with a call for Facebook to "immediately issue a correction, remove any restrictions placed on the pages of Live Action and Lila Rosa, and submit to an external audit."