Joel Martinez/The Monitor via AP
Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.Users are flooding a website designed for reporting people who violate Texas’ new anti-abortion laws with fake tips. The website was set up by Texas Right to Life to help enforce the new and draconian restrictions on abortion that the US Supreme Court refused to halt.
The new law bans all abortions—including in cases of rape or incest—after six weeks, a period in which many women aren’t even aware that they’re pregnant. It also circumvents many legal challenges by allowing abortion providers and anyone who aids someone seeking an abortion to be sued by private citizens, who can potentially be rewarded with $10,000 plus legal fees.
The Texas Right to Life organization created a website for those reports. But instead of citizens reporting on, say, the Uber driver who brought a woman to a clinic, critics of the law are spamming it with a barrage of fake information. Gov. Greg Abbott and Marvel’s Avengers are among those being reported receiving abortions, according to the New York Times.
Part of the flood of false info sent to the website appears to be aided by an activist and developer who posts under the social media alias Sean Black. In a viral TikTok first reported by Motherboard at Vice, Black explained that he wrote a script that anyone can access, which automates the process of letting them file fake reports. Each time they access Black’s script, new information is generated, theoretically making it harder for the Right to Life group to parse and ban people who are submitting fake reports.
As of September 2, not even 24 hours after the Supreme Court refused to halt the implementation of the law, Black told Vice the script had been clicked over 4,000 times.
Others on TikTok called on the platform’s users to spam the reporting site with Shrek-themed porn, among other things. Kim Schwartz, the Texas Right to Life director of media and communication, told Vice that this came as no surprise. They had planned for this and have been filtering out people reporting on the site from outside the country, who are using VPNs, and who have previously posted fake information and have introduced CAPTCHA to limit automated results.
So far though, Black has come up with new workarounds to each new restriction that Texas Right to Life introduces to its reporting website, and he doesn’t intend to stop. “While I feel it’s best to not reveal how I intend on dealing with this hurdle,” he told Vice, “I will say I am working on a solution.”