Adam Ford is an illustrator and the founder of the conservative satire site Babylon Bee. He recently posted a cartoon to Instagram with an anti-abortion message and, in a post written for his new Christian Daily Reporter site, says Instagram pulled the cartoon over “hate speech.”
“Does Instagram consider it “hate speech” to contend for the humanity and personhood of the unborn?” he wrote in the post. “If I had published the exact same comic, but instead used it to promote abortion (i.e. “without abortion rights, women cannot attain full equal personhood” — an argument used on the left), would it have been removed as ‘hate speech’? I think we all know the answer to that.”
He re-posted the cartoon on Christian Daily Reporter, and it’s posted in full below.
In a notification, an Instagram message said, “We removed your post because it doesn’t follow our Community Guidelines on hate speech or symbols.” Instagram did not specify which part of the comic violated their community guidelines.
However, there are a few hiccups in Ford’s narrative that the strip’s message is to blame for Instagram’s removal.
For one thing, Instagram has many accounts that are dedicated to pro-life messages. A quick search reveals “Pro-Life Memetics“, “i.am.prolife“, “Pro Life for Babies“, “Pro-Life, Pro-Women“, “Stand True Pro-Life” and dozens of other similar accounts full of pro-life memes and images. In fact, Ford himself has a number of other cartoons on his Instagram account with pro-life messages like this one, this one, this one and this one.
There is another possible reason Instagram flagged Ford’s post in question. Throughout the comic, which equivocates old hypothetical pro-slavery arguments with modern pro-choice rhetoric, Ford refers to black people as “blacks” — a term often flagged as offensive, though some style guides do permit “black” to be used as a noun as well as an adjective. While Instagram does not specifically forbid the use of “black” as a noun in their community guidelines, it does require users to only “post photos and videos that are appropriate for a diverse audience.”
This is the second time in a week that an anti-abortion account accused social media giants of discrimination. Last week, the official Twitter account of Pureflix’s Unplanned movie was briefly banned the weekend the movie was released. While Twitter said that was a result of Unplanned‘s link to another banned account, the movie still accused Twitter of a pro-choice bias. Senator Ted Cruz is actually taking official action on the whole thing.
In both that case and the case of Adam Ford’s cartoon, it is possible that moderators with a pro-choice bias decided to silence a message that didn’t line up with their own beliefs. But given the facts, it is not the most plausible explanation.