Will social media platforms ban ads promoting abortion in red states?

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Below: An Amazon labor leader meets with President Biden and a 16-year-old is leading a class action lawsuit against Snapchat that could upset Washington. First:

Will social media platforms ban ads promoting abortion in red states?

As the Supreme Court looks set to strike down the constitutional right to abortion later this year, a wave of red states are expected to enact new restrictions or bans on the practice.

It’s a trend that would force social media companies to make high-stakes and polarizing decisions about whether to ban advertising that promotes or facilitates abortion.

Currently, almost all major platforms prohibit advertisers from posting paid messages that promote or facilitate illegal products, services or activities. This includes Instagram, Google-owned YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, Reddit, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. “Ads must not constitute, facilitate, or promote illegal products, services, or activities,” Facebook’s advertising policies state.

Some explicitly say that digital ads must comply with local laws where the messages appear, and that companies may over-apply them in situations where the legality is unclear.

“We expect all advertisers to comply with local laws for all areas targeted by their ads, in addition to standard Google Ads policies,” Google’s Advertising Policies state. “We generally err on the side of caution in applying this policy as we do not want to allow content of questionable legality.”

With Republican-led state legislatures likely to expand bans on receiving, providing, or facilitating abortions, clinics and other healthcare providers offering related services may soon lose access to a powerful tool to reach potential patients.

A leaked Supreme Court draft opinion, published by Politico on Monday and later authenticated by the court, showed a majority of its justices would strike down the landmark Roe vs. Wade ruling, which set a long-standing federal precedent for abortion rights.

If the decision is finalized, a series of measures to criminalize abortions would quickly come into effect, meaning platforms would have to decide whether they would apply their rules against illegal services or activities in ads to groups seeking to promote abortions in red states.

This dynamic would plunge technology companies into the heart of a hotly contested and highly politicized debate. And it could risk alienating staff and even executives, some of whom have openly supported abortion rights and deplored the court’s draft opinion.

While most big tech companies have been relatively silent on opinion this week, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg spoke out against it on Tuesday.

“Today is a scary day for women across our country,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “If the leaked draft notice becomes the law of the land, one of our most fundamental rights will be taken away.”

Sandberg added: “Every woman, wherever she lives, should be free to choose if and when she becomes a mother.”

The platforms’ handling of abortion-related ads has long been a major focus in Washington, and the issue sparked one of the first high-profile skirmishes with a Republican lawmaker over allegations of bias.

In 2017, then-Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has hammered Twitter for not allowing her Senate campaign to promote a video with an anti-abortion message. Blackburn, now a senator, would go on to hit out at Facebook in 2018 for temporarily removing another ad in support of her candidacy.

“I’m being censored for speaking the truth,” Blackburn said in a fundraising email in response to the first incident, according to The Hill. In the years since, Republicans have become even more vocal in speaking out against what they call the “censorship” of Silicon Valley companies.

Platforms could also face new calls to more broadly crack down on organic content promoting abortion. But companies usually have stricter policies for paid content, like ads.

Technology 202 asked major platforms if they currently ban ads promoting abortion services in states where restrictions are already in place, such as Texas, or if they would do so under new restrictions or bans.

Google pointed to its policies on abortion-related ads, which state that “we expect ads and destinations to follow appropriate laws and industry standards.” Google already bans abortion ads in dozens of countries, but not in the United States at this time.

Facebook and Instagram’s parent company Meta pointed to policies requiring ads related to abortion or reproductive rights to receive preclearance before they can run. TikTok has led an investigation into its healthcare advertising policy, which states that such advertisements must “comply with the local laws of the target country”. It does not directly address abortion, and the company did not respond to questions about state-level restrictions.

LinkedIn pointed to its Medical Treatment Policy, which states that “LinkedIn reserves the right to limit advertising for medical devices and medical treatments.”

Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat did not return requests for comment. Reddit declined to comment.

Amazon union chief meets with Biden, testifies at Senate hearing

President of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) Chris Littles and other labor organizers met with President Biden at the White House on Thursday, according to Reuters David Shepardson and Nandita Bose report. It comes amid a surge of unionization at Amazon and other companies, like Starbucks. Workers at an Amazon warehouse in New York voted to organize with the ALU.

Biden wrote on Twitter that he met with Smalls and other union leaders to “thank them for their leadership in organizing unions,” adding that “these people are inspiring a movement of workers across the country to fight for wages and the benefits they deserve.

Smalls also testified at a Senate Budget Committee hearing on whether companies that violate labor laws should continue to receive federal contracts. Amazon did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Teenage girl accuses Snapchat of failing to protect her from ‘gross harm’

The 16-year-old is leading a class action lawsuit against the app, claiming its developers have done next to nothing to prevent the sexual exploitation of girls like her, Drew Harwell reports. The lawsuit seeks at least $5 million in damages and promises Snap will invest more in protecting teens, but it could also have ripple effects across Washington by drawing attention to a tech industry that has been left to fend for itself in the wake of federal lawmakers. non-compliance with technical regulations.

The company said it uses “the latest technology” and develops software “to help us find and remove content that exploits or abuses minors.”

“While we cannot comment on ongoing litigation, it is tragic and we are pleased that the perpetrator has been arrested and convicted,” the Snap spokeswoman said. Rachel Racuse mentioned. “Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our community.”

UK delays new tech regulator

The UK government plans to present its bill setting out the regulator’s powers on Tuesday, but ‘will stop short of including a final bill which could be made into law in the next year-long legislative session. which begins this fall,” Jim Pickard and Kate Beioley of the Financial Times write. That would delay passage of the bill until the 2023-2024 parliamentary session at the earliest, they report.

Plans to hold the regulator accountable have been in the works for years. The UK government announced it was setting up the regulator in 2020. Last year it was set up in ‘shadow form’ within the UK competition regulator, the FT reports. However, it has “no power beyond the watchdog’s existing toolkit”, write Pickard and Beioley.

Without a new law defining its powers, “the tech regulator won’t be able to set bespoke rules for tech companies or impose fines of up to 10% of turnover for having them. breached – two elements of a radical plan to curb the dominance of a small number of powerful tech groups,” they write.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the list of backers who plan to fund $7 billion of its deal to buy Twitter. Our colleague, Taylor Lorenz:

Robert McNeesprofessor of physics at Loyola University Chicago:

Facebook deliberately caused havoc in Australia to influence new law, say whistleblowers (Wall Street Journal)

Andreessen’s Role in Musk-Twitter Bid Creates Meta Conflict (Bloomberg)

Big Tech data collection is criticized by the world central bank group (Reuters)

Musk faces FTC antitrust scrutiny over Twitter alongside stock probe (Bloomberg)

Location data firm provides heatmaps of where visitors to abortion clinics live (Motherboard)

On Twitch, entertainment meets trauma as streamers cover the Depp v Heard (Nathan Grayson) lawsuit

  • NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson and others speak at the second Quad Open RAN Forum Monday at 7:45 a.m.
  • The Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution is hosting a webinar on Algorithms in the U.S. Legal System Thursday at 11 a.m.
  • The FTC and the Department of Justice Host a Listening Forum on the Impacts of Mergers and Acquisitions in the Tech Industry Thursday at 2 p.m.

ThatThat’s all for today — thank you so much for joining us! Be sure to tell others to subscribe to the Technology 202 here. Get in touch with advice, comments or greetings on Twitter or E-mail.

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