fb-pixel Skip to main content

An anonymous tip line was created for ‘whistleblowers’ to report abortions in Texas. Online activists are spamming it

An activist spoke outside the Supreme Court in protest against the new Texas abortion law that prohibits the procedure around six weeks into a pregnancy.Drew Angerer/Getty

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision not to block a highly restrictive Texas abortion law, an abortion whistleblower website is getting a lot of traffic — but perhaps not for its intended purpose.

Prolifewhistleblower.com was created for people to anonymously report anyone who helps women in Texas get abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which is now prohibited in the state. The Texas Heartbeat Act, also known as Senate Bill 8, outlaws abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, and is enforced by private citizens “to hold abortion providers and their enablers accountable,” the website states.

Advertisement



The site was set up in July by anti-abortion group Right to Life after the bill was signed. Anyone who successfully sues another person would be entitled to at least $10,000, according to the law.

But online activists who oppose the measure have begun trolling the site, inundating it with fabricated data and slowing the system down.

“What a shame it would be if people abused this tip line,” the reproductive justice organization Yellowhammer Fund wrote on its Facebook page.

TikTok user Victoria Hammett struck a similar tone: “Wouldn’t it be so awful if we sent in a bunch of fake tips and crashed the site?”

On Twitter, one user got in on the Internet satire, calling it “imperative that you report suspicious abortiony activity to this hotline.”

A TikTok user known as Sean Black made it even easier for online activists by designing a bot system that automatically sends requests to the website every 10 or so seconds.

But like most websites, the tip line tracks Internet Protocol addresses and can subsequently ban dubious users from the site. In a TikTok video, Black said he uploaded about 300 entries before the site blocked his IP address. But that didn’t stop him from finding and sharing another workaround with his TikTok following of over 50,000 users.

Advertisement



“Then I started thinking, ‘What if I made this a bit easier for everybody?,’” Black said. He created an iOS shortcut anyone with an iPhone can download that automatically fills the site’s forms. It picks a random Texas city, county, and zip code, and fills in the fields and submits the form.

“Takes like five seconds,” Black added.

In an email, Black told Vice’s Motherboard “the McCarthyism era tactics of turning neighbors against each other over a bill I feel is a violation of Roe V. Wade is unacceptable. There are people on TikTok using their platform to educate and their part. I believe this is me doing mine.”

Many online have continued this trend in protest of the nation’s strictest abortion law, which the Supreme Court let stand in a 5-4 vote late Wednesday night.

@black_madness21

#stitch with @victoriahammett I’ll see if I can add some multithreading to speed up this process

♬ original sound - Sean Black
@victoriahammett

@0liviajulianna this is genius go give her a follow y’all! Website: prolifewhistleblower.com

♬ original sound - Victoria Hammett

Brittany Bowker can be reached at brittany.bowker@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @brittbowker and on Instagram @brittbowker.