Two US congressmen urged Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (Google) to do more to guarantee that the ads that appear alongside searches for abortions clearly state if the procedure is being provided.
Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., implemented a rule in 2019 requiring advertisers who appear next to abortion-related search results to be accredited depending on whether they offer the operation. Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, and Representative Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat from Michigan, expressed concern in a letter to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai that the search engine does not consistently apply those rules, which can direct users to crisis pregnancy centers, non-medical organizations that encourage visitors to keep their pregnancies.
The letter stated, “As many states are increasingly narrowing the window between getting a positive pregnancy test and when you can terminate a pregnancy, every day counts.”
The lawmakers cited a study conducted jointly by Bloomberg News and the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate, which discovered that ads shown in response to Google searches for “Planned Parenthood,” “Plan C pills,” and “pregnancy help” lacked labels indicating whether an advertiser was an abortion provider.
For years, crisis pregnancy centers, which oppose abortion, have paid to advertise alongside searches for the procedure, confounding women who need medical attention and prompting condemnation from proponents of reproductive health.
The senators stated in their letter, “We think Google’s omission to attach disclaimer labels to these prevalent queries appears to be a breach of your June 2019 policy. “We implore you to take aggressive action to solve these and any other problems relating to deceptive advertisements and assist guarantee consumers obtain search results that appropriately reflect their searches and are relevant to their intentions.”
Google employees “regularly review our policies and have made updates to our list of in-scope abortion queries as needed,” a company spokesperson said. Additionally, the business stated that it has “clear and established policies that govern abortion-related ads on our platforms, which we apply consistently to all advertisers.”
In September, Google informed Bloomberg that the labels are not displayed in advertisements targeted at what the firm views as more generic inquiries, which may contain names of abortion physicians who also provide other services.
Concerns were also expressed by Warner and Slotkin regarding research from the Tech Transparency Project, which was first made public by Bloomberg. The study discovered more than a dozen advertisements in which crisis pregnancy centers were correctly identified with the phrase “does not provide abortion,” but the text of the advertisements implied otherwise.