Friday, December 2

Facebook parent Meta defends itself after turning private messages over to cops in abortion investigation


Nebraska police officers charged a mother and daughter with felonies for an alleged illegal abortion, but only after they were able to get private Facebook messages between the two — putting the social media giant on the defensive.

According to local reports, the investigation by the Norfolk Police Department included a search warrant that it issued for the messages between Jessica Burgess and her daughter Celeste in which they discussed getting Celeste an abortion pill, days before she claimed she had a stillbirth. 

Facebook’s parent company Meta issued a statement titled, “Correcting the Record on Meta’s Involvement in Nebraska Case,” claiming it was never told anything about the involvement of an abortion.

“We received valid legal warrants from local law enforcement on June 7, before the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The warrants did not mention abortion at all,” the statement said. “Court documents indicate that police were at that time investigating the alleged illegal burning and burial of a stillborn infant. The warrants were accompanied by non-disclosure orders, which prevented us from sharing information about them. The orders have now been lifted.”

NEBRASKA MOTHER, DAUGHTER FACING CHARGES OVER ALLEGEDLY PERFORMING ILLEGAL ABORTION, BURYING FETUS

Indeed, police had initially only charged the women with offenses related to the disposal of the fetus, as court records reportedly said Celeste told detectives she gave birth to a stillborn baby in the shower. The investigation had begun in April after a Norfolk Police detective received a tip that Celeste had a miscarriage and buried the fetus with her mother, the Lincoln Journal-Star reported.

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As for Meta’s claim that it was served with a warrant prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the overturning of Roe v. Wade had nothing to do with the charges in the case. Celeste was allegedly 23 weeks pregnant at the time. Nebraska’s law banning abortion 20 weeks post-fertilization (22 weeks after the mother’s last period) has been on the books since 2010.

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Meta's logo on a sign posted in front of the company's Menlo Park, California headquarters

Meta Platforms is considering reducing the money it gives to news organizations as it reevaluates the partnerships it struck over the past few years. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File / AP Newsroom)

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Some Nebraska lawmakers tried to pass a 12-week ban following the Supreme Court’s ruling, but the bill did not have enough support to get past a filibuster.

Timing is not the only reason why Jessica Burgess is being charged for the alleged abortion, as she is also not a licensed doctor, which would put her in violation of a separate statute.

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