Lawmakers ask Google to stop steering people seeking abortion to anti-abortion sites

by mcdix

A group of Democratic lawmakers led by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Rep. Elissa Slotkin urges Google to crack down on “manipulative search results” that direct people who are seeking abortions to anti-abortion clinics. In a letter to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, lawmakers refer to an investigation conducted by the US nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). The organization found that 1 in 10 searches for queries such as “abortion clinics near me” and “abortion pill” — particularly in states with trigger laws that would ban the procedure once Roe v. Wade is quashed — point to crisis pregnancy centers that are opposed to abortion instead.

“Directing women to fake clinics that disseminate misinformation and fail to provide comprehensive health services is dangerous to women’s health and undermines the integrity of Google’s search results,” the lawmakers wrote. CCDH also found that 37 percent of results on Google Maps for the same search terms lead people to anti-abortion clinics. The lawmakers stated in the letter that Google should not show those results to users seeking abortion and that if the company’s search results continue offering them, they should at least be properly labeled.

anti-abortion sites

In addition, CCDH found that 28 percent of the ads that appear at the top of Google search results are for crisis maternity centers. Google has added a disclaimer for those ads, “albeit one that appears in a small font and is easily missed,” the lawmakers note, after getting the flak for them a few years ago. “The prevalence of these deceptive ads marks what appears to be a worrying reversal from Google’s 2014 promise to remove ads from crisis maternity centers that engage in overt deception of women seeking abortion information online,” the letter said.

Warner, Slotkin, and the other signatories to the letter ask Google what it plans to do to limit the appearance of anti-abortion clinics when users explicitly search for abortion services. And suppose Google chooses not to take action to prevent them from appearing in the results. In that case, the group will ask Google to add user-friendly disclaimers to clarify whether or not the clinic offers abortion services. You can read the entire letter below: A Supreme Court draft obtained by Politico in May showed that the SCOTUS judges voted to roll back Roe v. Wade. This landmark case protected federal abortion rights nationwide. Senator Ron Wyden and 41 other Democratic lawmakers asked Google to stop collecting and storing users’ location data. They said the information could be used against people who have had or want abortions in states with trigger laws. Our editorial team, independent of our parent company, has selected all products recommended by Engadget. Some of our stories contain affiliate links. We may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through one of these links.

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