Facebook Crossed A Line Sharing DM Of Teen Who Faces Felony Rap Over Use Of Abortion Pill

Buy it on Etsy

The massive social media platform Facebook is in the news this week, and I’m outta there. After being lured to Facebook in its infancy by one of my children who insisted I’d love it (he left the platform years ago) I’ve watched it emerge as the most effective spying tool ever. 

Most people who still use it put public stuff on their timeline and private stuff in direct messages (DM).

So when a 17 year old in Nebraska needed an abortion she and her mother both used their DM to share information about that. Then someone snitched and police demanded the messages of both the formerly pregnant person and her mom. After Facebook turned over evidence that, yes, a teen terminated an unwanted pregnancy using pills, the girl was arrested, charged with murder (a felony), disposing of a dead body, and will be tried as an adult. Mom is facing felony charges, too, for supporting her child’s need for health care unobtainable in Nebraska.

“Facebook previously said it would ban users who posted that they would mail abortion pills to people in states where it is banned or restricted,” according to “The Is The Data Facebook Gave Police To Prosecute A Teen For Abortion” where Vice published the actual court documents).

This tweet went viral:

Today I joined many in deleting my accounts on Spybook and Instagram.

And I actually felt relief but not much regret after doing so

Facebook is owned by a company now known as Meta. It also owns Insta and presumably would also turn over your DM from Insta to the police if asked. Facebook’s defense was that the court order didn’t mention abortion, just a criminal investigation into a stillbirth. Uh huh. (I know pr flaks for Meta aren’t stupid, but apparently they think we are.)

Anything I ever put on those platforms is fair game — something I was always fully aware of and behaved accordingly.  Did you know many low-income people use Facebook Messenger instead of texting which incurs charges on most phone plans?

But here’s the thing: that time I needed an abortion, I had access to a safe, legal, medical procedure as part of my HMO health plan. I didn’t need to go searching for solutions I hoped would not be desperate enough to risk my life, my health, or my liberty. 

And I didn’t have to worry about snitches.

Do you work at a tech company? Do you have information on how they are handling data with regards to abortion rights? We’d love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, OTR chat on jfcox@jabber.ccc.de, or email joseph.cox@vice.com.

Do you work at Facebook? Do you know of any other cases where Facebook or another tech company has provided information about an abortion to law enforcement? Reach out to jason.koebler@vice.com or securely on Signal: 202-505-1702

Only A General Strike Will Secure The Right To Safe, Legal Abortion

Yesterday I endangered the 20 people I was with, standing on the pavement thinking about the government. I yelled at an older man in a car with NY license plates who was mansplaining that Maine still has access to safe medical abortion. I asked him if he had a uterus and then told him “If you don’t have a uterus then shut the f up” (yes, I said f not the f word). Luckily he did not become angry and shoot anyone. He just said, “Nice language, lady” and drove away.

I’ve apologized to the event organizer for losing my temper. 

The incident made me realize how deeply angry I am about the attack on people who can get pregnant, by attackers who can’t. 

I was disappointed by the coverage in the local paper which focused on the need to vote harder for Democrats. Really? Y’all still falling for that bullshit that got us to where we are today?

Honestly, though, I just became a hair more willing to vote for the Democratic incumbent for governor, a woman who has disappointed numerous times with her craven pandering to big business. Her challenger is the old incumbent, a man who arguably was channeling 45 before that demagogue had even made it to the White House. Rude, crude, and would definitely strip Maine of reproductive rights if he were able. (And ranked choice voting does not apply to the election for governor in our state.)

Some of my friends are posting as former wards of the state about their hellish experiences in foster care. They are challenging the narrative that adoption is a magic wand that solves unwanted pregnancy problems. They are reminding us that they were kicked to the curb after aging out of the system at 18; many ended up unhoused, exploited, addicted, or dead.

I’m also reminded of the now decades old statistical analysis pointing out that access to safe, legal abortions caused the U.S. crime rate to plummet. (If you’ve not heard about this theory before, you can listen or read about it here on the Freakonomics site.) There’s no doubt that policing and incarceration are systems built to keep white people at the top of the heap. Unfortunately, those are constants in the U.S. But did legalizing abortion in the 1970’s have a ripple effects on the rate of violent crime 20 years later?

As a teacher for 25 years I had occasion to know many families. The vast majority of people love their kids — even moms and dads who didn’t particularly want children to be born into poverty and who are struggling themselves after a bad childhood. Parents and other caregivers (increasingly grandparents after their own child succumbs to substance use disorder) don’t always make the choices that seem wise to their teachers. Educators are a middle class bunch, mostly raised by parents that had resources and took the job seriously. We are often judgmental about the suffering we see and who’s causing it. 

If you haven’t lived a childhood full of trauma it can be hard to empathize with those who have. The scars are invisible, but they are deep.

I worked with children in dire poverty for many years. Subsequently, I wrote a novel about their struggles and triumphs; the book includes trafficking, sexual assault, unwanted pregnancy, and abortion. My protagonist experiences all of the above but she triumphs in the end because she’s a bad ass who’s able to find her way into nurturing communities. She has a safe, legal abortion while other characters are forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. Now I’m revising while trying to find an agent and/or publisher. If you have any suggestions for me, I want to hear them.

You can buy this cool poster here on the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) website.

I could end this post by saying, see you on the streets, but I’m pretty sure only a general strike will turn this ship around. Easy for a retired person like me to say, but if all the women and girls who could manage it stayed home from work next week, within a month Congress would have passed and the president would have signed a law guaranteeing the legality of abortion throughout the U.S.

We must hit our corporate overlords in the pocketbook by withholding labor in order to get their attention.

Of course then Democrats would lose the ability to fundraise off the abortion political football. And I’m pretty sure we’re all clear on which they value more: $$$$ or basic human rights. Under their leadership, what’s the only wealthy country on the planet that doesn’t have universal health care? Of which abortion on demand is just one component.

The fervor of this young person attempting to communicate with the president’s motorcade in Los Angeles this month is what’s needed now. What are they shouting? 

“An abortion ban will not stop abortions! Only safe ones!!!”