On Thursday, I shared an article about a Democratic congresswoman who resorted to using discredited “hate group” labeling from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to defend Planned Parenthood. Right after sharing the article on Facebook, the social media platform suggested I add a donate button and gave three options: three Planned Parenthood affiliates.
Seemingly oblivious to my pro-life stance, and to the fact that the article actually attacked Planned Parenthood, Facebook helpfully suggested, “You can add a donate button to your post to raise money for a nonprofit on Facebook.” Right below that message came a suggestion that all the cool kids are doing it — namely, my Facebook friends.
Then came the interesting part. “Choose Nonprofit to Add Button: Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood.” The full options: Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, Planned Parenthood Great Plains, and Planned Parenthood of Southern New England.
These options proved particularly interesting for many reasons. First, I live in the Washington, D.C., area and Facebook knows this. Where the idea of supporting the Washington (State), Idaho, Great Plains, and Southern New England branches of Planned Parenthood came from, I have no idea. Furthermore, the congresswoman in question, Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), represents California, none of the states Facebook suggested.eeee
Second, the article in question also included the name of another nonprofit, albeit one with deep pockets in the Cayman Islands, namely the SPLC. Perhaps my decision not to include the SPLC in the headline led Facebook to assume I wanted to support Planned Parenthood.
The whole point of the article, and my Facebook post, was that it is getting harder and harder for Democrats to defend Planned Parenthood. This congresswoman even had to resort to the SPLC’s biased and ridiculous “hate group” smear just to drum up some left-wing hatred against the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and brand them a “hate group” five times in a two-minute speech.
I understand I used the name “Planned Parenthood” in the post, but that doesn’t mean I want to donate money to the nation’s largest abortion provider. This is likely just a — rather ironic — Facebook algorithm malfunction.
Even so, the geographic mismatch begs an interesting question: how does Facebook choose which organizations to suggest in a “add a donate button” prompt? Does the algorithm target pro-life users and suggest Planned Parenthood affiliates for their donations? Why, of all places, did Facebook suggest three disparate Planned Parenthood affiliates with which I have no connection?
Is the nation’s largest abortion provider paying Facebook to promote themselves so widely that pro-life users are asked to donate to an organization they want the federal government to defund? Or is all this an algorithm mistake?