Google shows you ads for anti-abortion centers when you search for clinics near you - NPR

[When people search for phrases such as] “abortion clinic near me” or “planned parenthood[,]"…the ads they’ll see at the top of the Google search results are often not abortion providers at all, but instead misleading ads for anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers” — facilities that use various tactics to dissuade or delay pregnant people from getting an abortion.

These ads on Google are no small business, according to a new report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a U.S.- and U.K.-based nonprofit focused on research, campaigns and policy to counteract hate and disinformation. The group finds that anti-abortion pregnancy centers in the U.S. spent an estimated $10.2 million on Google Search ads over a two-year period, and those ads were clicked on an estimated 13 million times.

Among the organization’s findings: 38% of the centers that advertised on Google in this period had no homepage disclaimer stating that they don’t provide abortions. That appears to violate a Google policy prohibiting ads or destinations concealing or misstating information about the advertiser’s business, product or service.

Researchers found that the anti-abortion pregnancy centers targeted more than 15,000 queries related to abortion, including phrases like “telehealth abortion pill texas” and “how much is an abortion in california.”

Crisis pregnancy centers are unregulated and often nonmedical. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) notes that the facilities have no legal obligation to provide pregnant people with accurate information or maintain client confidentiality.

Many of the facilities “use false and misleading information, emotional manipulation, and delays to divert pregnant people from accessing comprehensive and timely care from patient-centered, appropriately trained, and licensed medical professionals,” ACOG explains, noting that the centers’ tactics can include “misrepresenting nonmedical staff and volunteers as clinicians by having them wear lab coats and perform ultrasounds.”

Google has specific policies for advertisers running ads on abortion queries. To run ads on such queries in the U.S., U.K. or Ireland, Google dictates “you will first need to be certified as an advertiser that either provides abortions or does not provide abortions. If you are not certified, you won’t be able to run ads using queries related to getting an abortion.”

But there are gaps in the system. Google’s abortion ad disclosure policy applies specifically to terms and queries related to getting an abortion. Ads that target more general information keyword terms, however, are not slapped with Google’s disclosure labels.

To ensure that people seeking abortions don’t get taken in by misleading ads, the Center for Countering Digital Hate is calling on legislators to ban misleading advertising on abortion. It’s also asking Google to make all ads from anti-abortion pregnancy centers bear the disclaimer “does not provide abortions,” to require the centers’ websites to display clear disclaimers — and for Google’s search results to highlight actual abortion clinics.

Read the full story here


Organizations: Google Center for Countering Digital Hate American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists 

Tags: Abortion Corporate Negligence 

Type: Headlines