June 17, 2019

Google Changes Abortion Ad Policy

For years, Google has faced complaints that its platform enables so-called crisis pregnancy centers, which oppose abortion, to masquerade as abortion providers in an effort to dissuade women from seeking the procedure. The new certification process is meant to make plain exactly what services an advertiser provides.

“Depending on how you’re certified,” the company said in the post, “Google will automatically generate one of the following in-ad disclosures for your abortion product or service ads: ‘Provides abortions’ or ‘Does not provide abortions.’ The disclosures will show on all Search ad formats and help ensure that these ads transparently provide basic information users need to decide which abortion-related ads are most relevant to them.”

Google changed the policy after The Guardian reported that the tech company gave $150,000 in free ads to Obria Group. The ads suggested that Obria, which does not perform abortions and tries to persuade women not to end their pregnancies, offered abortion services.

“The idea that we’re moving toward verification around advertising shouldn’t be controversial in any way,” said Joan Donovan, an expert on misinformation who heads the Technology and Social Change Research Project at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center. “We should require businesses that are purchasing advertising to be who they say they are and be able to provide the services they say they do — we shouldn’t have to wait for it to be a really hot-button issue at the time.”

In 2014, the abortion rights group Naral Pro-Choice America said that it successfully pressured Google to take down deceptive advertisements from crisis pregnancy centers. Last year, ahead of a referendum on abortion in Ireland, Google suspended all ads related to the vote.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/21/business/media/google-abortion-ads.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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