Facebook says its photo sharing site Instagram made a mistake when it blocked a pro-life group from boosting a post featuring a newborn baby and labeled it as "violent" content.
The group Save the Storks says Instagram acted unfairly when it barred them from sharing the story of a pregnant mother diagnosed with cancer who decided to give birth to her daughter instead of having an abortion, which her doctors advised.
In the post, Save the Storks, a ministry that offers free sonograms and resources to pregnant women who think abortion is their only option, shared the story of Marissa, a mother of two young boys, who, at 17 weeks into her pregnancy, was told that an aggressive brain tumor had returned. Doctors suggested Marissa consider having an abortion so they could begin chemotherapy treatments.
Marissa was told "if she didn’t begin chemotherapy immediately, she was jeopardizing her life,” Victoria Robinson, a spokesperson for Save the Storks, wrote in the Instagram post after traveling to Florida to pray with and support the family.
“For Marissa and her husband Tim, abortion wasn’t an option. She refused to end the life of her child, even at the cost of her own,” Robinson added.
Marissa delivered her daughter, Victoria Lee, premature yet healthy, weighing 2 pounds and 5 ounces, earlier this month. After giving birth by Cesarean section, Marissa began chemotherapy.
Save the Storks told The Christian Post on Wednesday that Instagram had blocked their access to boost the post’s reach, labeling it “shocking, sensational, or excessively violent content.”
Instagram added, “this type of material creates an unexpected experience for users, and goes against our core value of fostering a positive global community.”
Save the Storks first appealed Instagram’s decision on Aug. 23, telling CP on Thursday, “Instagram’s reply on our request to boost still shows ‘not approved’ and the appeal as ‘pending.’”
While Instagram said it would respond to Save the Storks’ appeal within 24 hours, nearly a week passed before Instagram reviewed its decision, after CP contacted them for comment.
A Facebook company spokesperson responded to CP late Thursday, saying, “This ad was rejected in error and we are sorry for the mistake. It’s now up and running.”
In response to Instagram’s reversal, Diane Ferraro, chief communications officer for Save the Storks, said, “After blocking our ad for a week, we’re grateful that Instagram recognized their error and the ad is now up and running. We hope that this decision in favor of pro-life messages will positively impact all conservative Christian organizations going forward.”
Ferraro told CP they were surprised the post’s reach was initially blocked by Instagram because Facebook, which owns Instagram, had allowed the organization to promote the post.
She added that while messages by pro-life organizations are frequently blocked, posts supportive of abortion rights are not. “Planned Parenthood frequently posts graphic messages that are inappropriate for a broad audience,” but their messages are not blocked by social media companies. Ferraro said these same companies, on occasion, deny pro-life groups the “opportunity to share pro-life stories with a broader audience."