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Pinterest Has Banned The Massively Popular Anti-Abortion Group Live Action

Pinterest said Live Action, which has more than 3.3 million social media followers, was spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Last updated on June 11, 2019, at 10:11 p.m. ET

Posted on June 11, 2019, at 7:35 p.m. ET

BREAKING: @Pinterest has permanently BANNED Live Action from the platform and marked all links to our website as "porn." https://t.co/YjoJcKQExO

Pinterest has permanently banned Live Action, the influential anti-abortion group that published videos claiming Planned Parenthood harvested and sold fetal body parts, for spreading misinformation and conspiracies.

On Tuesday morning, Live Action, one of the largest and most prominent voices of the anti-abortion movement with more than 3.3 million followers on social media, tweeted that Pinterest had added its website to a list of "blocked pornography sites," preventing users from pinning links to their boards.

Live Action alerted its followers of the block after Project Veritas, a right-wing group known for making undercover videos, published an interview with a Pinterest whistleblower, who provided copies of internal conversations and documents allegedly showing that the social media company had purposely stifled Live Action and another conservative group by placing them on a porn site list.

"Pinterest received an appeal and doubled down, keeping 'http://LiveAction.org' on their pornography blocked list," tweeted Alison Centofante, Live Action's director of external affairs. "It appears Live Action is the only pro-life group on this list, at this time."

BREAKING NEWS: @Pinterest appears to have intentionally added "https://t.co/WLqSFeV3cL" to a list of blocked pornography sites. https://t.co/AluDa9WTIQ

Shortly after, Centofante said Pinterest permanently suspended the group for spreading "harmful misinformation, [which] includes medical misinformation and conspiracies that turn individuals and facilities into targets for harassment or violence," according to a letter from the social media company.

"We received a permanent ban without notice or previous contact from Pinterest, and they have not given us any clarification apart from our ban notice claiming that our content causes 'immediate and detrimental effects on [a Pinterest user's] health or on public safety,'" a Live Action spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.

It wasn't clear what posts specifically triggered the ban, but in its explanation to Live Action and BuzzFeed News, Pinterest said the group was suspended for "misinformation related to conspiracies and anti-vaccination advice, and not porn."

"Sometimes our internal tools have legacy names for the technology that enforces some of our policies," a spokesperson for the company said. "This technology was named years ago to combat porn, and has since expanded to a variety of content despite retaining its original internal name. We are updating our internal labeling to make this clear."

@AM_Colleen @LilaGraceRose @LiveAction @Pinterest I just tried pinning a Live Action link on Pinterest and my action was blocked

Social media companies have recently been cracking down and purging accounts that spread anti-vax content. However, in its response, Live Action argued that it "has been and remains neutral on the issue of vaccines," but then listed instances in which the group reported on "the controversy surrounding the use of human fetal cell lines used to grow certain vaccines."

Archived screengrabs of one of Live Action's Pinterest accounts show pins now synonymous with anti-abortion social media content: drawings of a fetus in a womb, pink quote cards with statements like "life is a gift" and "save the babies."

Although Pinterest is the first social media company to ban the anti-abortion leader, Live Action alleges that Twitter and YouTube have been suppressing it for years, preventing it from posting certain ads and burying its videos in searches.

A Twitter spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that the group and its founder and president, Lila Rose, can no longer advertise on the platform because both accounts have repeatedly violated the company's policies.

Earlier this month, Google announced that it was updating its health care and medicine policy for abortion to thwart misleading and manipulative ads from anti-abortion groups and clinics, which had been appearing at the top when users searched "abortion."

"Advertisers who want to run ads using keywords related to getting an abortion will first need to be certified as an advertiser that either provides abortions or does not provide abortions," the tech giant said.

False and misleading information about abortions has been surging since state lawmakers across the US have been passing legislation to restrict access to clinics. Activists and providers say more and more women are desperately searching online for how to self-induce or perform their own abortions at home, as well as stumbling onto anti-abortion sites billing themselves as women's health resources.

According to a recent study by Media Matters, Live Action was one of the top spreaders of abortion-related coverage on Facebook in April. In total, right-wing sites were responsible for 63% of links and 72% of posts on the platform, often sharing false stories about fetal heartbeats and infanticide.

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