How pro- and anti-abortion activists use encrypted messaging apps in post-Roe America


In a post-Roe America, abortion-rights activists are scrambling to protect reproductive rights. Communication on open social media platforms like Facebook can now be used to prosecute those seeking an illegal abortion in a frightening entanglement of technology corporations and the state. Building on surveillance studies and feminist scholarship, we analyze 22 interviews with pro and anti-abortion activists and pro-encryption activists to answer: How will encrypted messaging apps be relevant for pro- and anti-abortion activists post-Roe? We find that while encrypted messaging apps are used by activists on either side of the abortion debate, their motivations for use range from mere convenience to supplanting state and corporate surveillance. We thus argue that encryption can act as a feminist tool to usurp patriarchal surveillance but must be used in combination with a holistic privacy framework. This framework may include care-motivated, community-centered, relational surveillance.