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Google changes policy to avoid misleading ads on abortion

  • THE NEW YORK TIMES

    Abort­ion right­s activ­ists hold signs as they rally today in Colum­bus, Ohio. After outrage over recent reports of misleading abortion-related ads, Google said that it would require advertisers dealing with the topic to be certified as abortion providers or non-providers.

Companies and organizations that plan to run ads on Google referring to abortion services in the United States, Britain and Ireland must first ask for permission, the search giant has said.

After outrage over recent reports of misleading abortion-related ads, Google said that it would require advertisers dealing with the topic to be certified as abortion providers or nonproviders. Starting in June, abortion ads will include disclosures that identify whether or not the advertiser provides abortions. Advertisers can apply for certification starting now.

Google said last week in an online post that “this added transparency will help ensure that users have the necessary information to decide which abortion-related ads are most relevant to them.”

The statement from Google came about after an organization that opposes abortion had apparently billed itself as a facility that provided abortions. The 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 ad 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.

Google does not allow ads related to abortion to appear on the site in more than 70 countries. Last week, Alabama lawmakers approved a near-total abortion ban in the state.

Many women looking for information on ending a pregnancy rely on Google. Over a month in 2017, more than 200,000 Google searches sought information on self-induced abortion, according to a study from the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights. Similar searches surged nearly 500% between 2011 and 2015, according to data cited by researchers.

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