PC Culture

Pinterest Secretly Treats Pro-Life Messages Like ‘Porn’

Pinterest’s logo (Eric Thayer/Reuters)
The social-media platform has just put the nonprofit Live Action on a block list.

The country has grown increasingly aware of the power of technology companies to ban user content based on users’ viewpoints. The latest culprit: Pinterest. The seemingly innocuous picture-sharing website, frequented by a loyal audience who “pin” their favorite images, appears to have intentionally added my pro-life organization, Live Action, to a pornography “block list” in an effort to censor our life-affirming images. And now, after Pinterest was informed that the insider’s report was forthcoming, Live Action’s account was permanently suspended. Later in the day, the brave whistleblower, Eric Cochran, was fired from Pinterest and escorted out of the building.

LiveAction.org is the web domain of the leading national nonprofit I lead, with over 3 million followers online and over 500,000 active email members, dedicated to ending abortion and building a culture of life. We do this, in part, by sharing information about prenatal development and the abortion procedure, and encouragement and options for women facing an unplanned pregnancy. Our messages on Pinterest mirror that mission by sharing inspirational messages to expectant mothers, ultrasound images showing the science of prenatal development, and images declaring that women deserve better than Planned Parenthood.

Pinterest says its mission is “to bring everyone the inspiration to create a life they love.” Much inspiration is needed to take on the mission of loving a tiny preborn life you help create. That’s why Live Action is on the platform sharing our pro-life messages of hope and empowerment for mom and child, and sharing the dangers of abortion.

The Pinterest whistleblower, Eric Cochran, went to Project Veritas, the guerrilla-journalist group founded by James O’Keefe, and explained that the websites on a domain block list cannot be linked in posts made by users. He then shows the product code, Slack messages, and internal documents revealing that “LiveAction.org” is sitting alongside a list of verified pornography sites. This would prevent users from linking to our site. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be a simple mistake. The Pinterest insider provides documentation of a conversation between employees after a user filed an appeal regarding LiveAction.org. The employees doubled down on keeping “LiveAction.org” on the pornography list.

Secretly applying the label of “pornography” to Live Action’s content demonstrates a concerted effort to sideline a leading pro-life organization the only way they knew how.

Live Action has every right to participate on the platform, and Pinterest should course correct its ways immediately. The abortion corporation Planned Parenthood and its local affiliates use the platform to share their message. Censoring messages from the largest online pro-life organization but allowing messages from the largest abortion corporation shows clear bias. Pinterest getting involved in politics or suppressing speech should be every Pinterester’s worst nightmare. The place formerly dedicated to creativity, free expression, and freedom of information would be turned into a political and cultural battleground.

The whistleblower at Pinterest also revealed that Pinterest was suppressing and monitoring other pro-life and conservative accounts. According to the insider, “David Daleiden/Planned Parenthood” was added to a list of conspiracy theories that Pinterest monitors. In 2015, David Daleiden exposed executives and staff at Planned Parenthood bartering over the sale of fetal body parts. His investigative work has been used in congressional testimony and court cases, and Coalfire, one of the country’s most trusted digital forensic analysis companies, released a report in 2015 indicating that the undercover videos recorded by the Center for Medical Progress are “authentic and show no evidence of manipulation.”

In addition, a “sensitive terms” list for Pinterest reportedly includes terms like “Bible verses,” which the site does not allow to “autocomplete,” instead changing the word “verses” to “versus” or combining the words into nonsensical terms like “versesinspirational.” The site also allegedly monitors commentators Ben Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew, and Candace Owens, a female black conservative, for what Pinterest considers “white supremacist” content.

Pinterest’s behavior adds to a growing pattern of censorship all too familiar to us. Both my and Live Action’s accounts have been unable to advertise on Twitter since 2015. After many attempts to contact Twitter, we were finally informed that we would not be permitted to advertise unless we deleted all tweets and any content on our website that included the following: criticism of Planned Parenthood, ultrasound images of preborn children, undercover investigations into abortion facilities, or facts about abortion. In fact, in order to “pay to play” as others do, Twitter informed us that we would have to scrub our Twitter account and our organization’s website of any of the content it deemed offensive. All this while Twitter continued to allow the nation’s largest abortion corporation, Planned Parenthood, and its executives to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars promoting pro-abortion messages on the platform.

Pinterest is now joining the censorship circus of social-media platforms that claim to be politically neutral places for users to post content, but instead privately act like a publisher. Claiming to be a platform allows Pinterest to benefit from legal protections against libel, copyright infringement, and other illegal acts by its users. But privately, it is choosing to exercise editorial judgment to exclude certain viewpoints, acting more like a publisher. If Pinterest continues to suppress pro-life content, it should face the consequence any other publisher would face.

Pinterest’s behavior should alarm everyone, not just those of us in the pro-life movement. When a platform with more than 300 million active monthly users chooses to take sides on issues — suppressing certain voices and promoting others — that can have a negative impact on our national conversations, our politics, and even our laws. The time is now to demand the best from the companies that claim to allow the free sharing of ideas.

Lila Rose is the founder and president of Live Action.

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