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Facebook censors pro-life ad in Ireland


A photo of an 11-week old fetus in the womb was reportedly deemed “graphic” and “violent” content.

Facebook has reportedly censored an advertising campaign by a pro-life group in Ireland, warning that a photo of a living fetus in the womb constitutes “graphic” or “violent” content.

The ad, sponsored by the Dublin, Ireland-based Iona Institute for Religion and Society, was part of a campaign launched on May 7 that includes billboard signs featuring a photo of an 11-week old fetus in the womb.

The campaign called, “Still One of Us,’ is similar to a campaign the group ran last year, called ‘One of Us,’ prior to the Irish referendum on abortion, in which 66.4% of voters approved a measure to remove the constitutional ban on abortion. Under the new law, abortion is allowed for any reason up to 12 weeks.

Professor Patricia Casey, speaking on behalf of the Iona Institute, said of the image featured in the campaign, “We are showing the unborn baby at 11 weeks because that is within the time period when a perfectly healthy foetus of a perfectly healthy mother can be aborted, effectively on-demand. It is also very apparent even at this early stage of the pregnancy that we dealing with a human being.”

According to the Iona Institute’s website, Facebook blurred the image of the fetus in the ads and included a warning that said the ad contained “graphic” or “violent” content.

Iona Institute

Iona Institute said in a statement, “The European Parliament is currently running a video that appears on Facebook and elsewhere called ‘Choose your future’. It opens with an image of an unborn child in the womb very like the one used in our campaign. Should Facebook also declare this to be ‘graphic’ content?

“This decision by such an enormous company as Facebook affects the ability of the pro-life movement in general to get its message out to the public even in a gentle way. Are we now at a point where images of an unborn child in the womb cannot be shown in public even though parents see such images every day in hospitals all over the country and have no hesitation showing such images to their children?”

However, it might be the case this is yet another instance of Facebook algorithm’s not understanding quite right what the campaign (or the image) is really about. It would not be the first time Facebook’s artificial intelligence is involved in this kind of potential mistakes.



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