Across the nation, several states — such as Alabama and Ohio — are enacting laws to severely restrict abortion access. As this happens, it’s imperative that those seeking assistance are not misled by false advertisements.
Anti-abortion groups have a history of using manipulation tactics to trick those seeking abortions. These tactics include opening fake clinics and posing as medical professionals and manipulating Google results, so searches for “abortion providers near me” lead people astray.
Now, Google is trying to stop anti-abortion clinics from using misleading ads. An update to the healthcare and medicines policy will require organizations running ads about abortions to certify whether or not they provide abortions.
Starting June 2019, Google will automatically generate in-ad disclosures letting people know whether an organization “Provides abortions” or “Does not provide abortions.”
According to the policy, Google plans to decide who gets which disclaimer through a certification process by having advertisers submit an application. Once it has been reviewed and verified, organizations will receive their certification.
Although nothing about the new policy addresses anti-abortion clinics manipulating Search and Maps results, tackling ads is a good first step. The entire process relies on Google’s team to appropriately vet organizations, but there are no details on what that will look like.
The disclosures will only be required in the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland.