Meta has made thousands of dollars on ads promoting abortion reversal, a procedure that supposedly reverses the course of a medical abortion, according to a new report from watchdog Media Matters. The viability of these procedures is unproven, and they have been called unethical by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The existence of such ads has been previously reported, but the Media Matters report reveals how much Meta made from these advertisements and how many impressions they generated. The ads seemingly violate Meta’s policies, which prohibit false or misleading claims, including about health.
Self-described pro-life group Live Action paid at least $22,000 for ads promoting abortion reversal in 2021, which generated 5.5 million impressions, Media Matters found, before taking the majority of the ads down following a report in The Guardian. A Meta spokesperson at the time noted the ads violated the company’s policies.
Despite this, in October and November 2021, Live Action was able to pay Meta $10,000 for another two ads promoting abortion reversal, which together generated more than 2 million impressions and weren’t pulled down, according to the report. Later, after an opinion for the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision was leaked to Politico in May 2022, Live Action again paid Meta at least another $2,000 for nine more ads containing misinformation about abortion pills. Those ads were seen more than 545,000 times and left up for the entirety of the campaign through mid-July.
Media Matters collected its data using the Facebook ad library tool, which allows users to search all ads running across Meta’s technologies. The library indicates if an ad that has run was subsequently taken down for violating Meta’s policies, though Meta can still make money from these advertisements. No such label was added to the ads containing misinformation that Media Matters identified, meaning they ran unobstructed.
“Though Meta has pretty strict advertising policies on paper, it repeatedly struggles to enforce the policies,” said Kayla Gogarty, deputy research director at Media Matters.
Meta declined to comment, and Live Action did not comment by time of publication.