Mark Zuckerberg reportedly helped reinstate a video that falsely claims abortion is ‘never medically necessary,’ caving to complaints of Republican politicians

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left) and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left) and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen. Matt McClain-Pool/Getty Images/Andrew Harnik/AP
  • 17 news outlets reported further findings from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s leaked internal documents.
  • Zuckerberg helped reinstate an inaccurate anti-abortion video after Republican politicians protested its removal, records reviewed by the Financial Times reveal.
  • Employees repeatedly urged Facebook execs to stop bending the rules for politicians, the report says.

New revelations from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s leaked internal documents show that employees repeatedly urged CEO Mark Zuckerberg to stop bending content moderation rules for politicians, The Financial Times reported.

Among The Facebook Papers is an internal memo that alleges Zuckerberg was directly involved in a 2019 decision to reinstate a video that falsely claimed abortions are “never medically necessary,” according to documents reviewed by the FT.

The inaccurate post was originally removed by a Facebook moderator, leading to backlash from Republican figureheads, the report says.

Facebook’s decision to put the post back up was one of several examples cited by employees who claim executives intervene in misinformation removal “when they see that they could harm powerful political actors,” according to The Financial Times.

Facebook did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne told The Financial Times that, “at the heart of these stories is a premise which is false.”

“Yes, we’re a business and we make profit, but the idea that we do so at the expense of people’s safety or wellbeing misunderstands where our own commercial interests lie,” the statement continued. “The truth is we’ve invested $US13 ($AU17) billion and have over 40,000 people to do one job: keep people safe on Facebook.”

The anti-abortion video referenced in Haugen’s latest leak is likely a speech made by anti-abortion campaigner Lila Rose, who falsely claimed “abortion is never medically necessary” on the platform in 2019. Three doctors working for Health Feedback said that Rose’s claim was inaccurate, explaining that conditions such as placenta previa and HELLP syndrome can make an abortion necessary to prevent the mother’s death.

Facebook initially attached the doctors’ fact-check onto the video and restricted the page’s distribution, prompting Rose to accuse it of censorship, Insider’s Isobel Hamilton previously reported.

Four Republican senators, including Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, wrote to Mark Zuckerberg in response, arguing that the doctors who wrote the fact-check were not impartial, therefore violating the code of conduct established by the International Fact-Checking Network.

“The science of medicine is not subjective, and a strongly held personal belief should never outweigh scientific evidence, override standards of medical care, or drive policy that puts a person’s health and life at risk,” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Physicians for Reproductive Health said in a statement.

“As physicians, we are focused on protecting the health and lives of the patients for whom we provide care. Without question, abortion can be medically necessary.”