US lawmakers call on Google to label or limit search results for ‘fake’ abortion clinics

A group of US lawmakers has signed a letter to Google urging the company to re-evaluate its treatment of search results that take users to anti-abortion crisis centers instead of legitimate clinics, as previously was reported Reuters, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Representative Alyssa Slotkin (D-MI) are leading the initiative, while several other Democratic lawmakers have signed letters of support.

The letter cited research published by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), which focused on Google search results in “triggered law states” — or 13 states where abortion would be illegal if the Supreme Court in Roe v. reverses Wade. Research indicates that 11 percent of Google searches for “abortion clinic near me” and “abortion pill” in Trigger Law bring users to “fake” clinics that try to prevent women from getting abortions. The problem is even more pronounced on Google Maps, as the CCDH found that 37 percent of abortion-related map searches led to fake clinics.

In their letter to Google, the lawmakers asked the search giant whether it would limit or label these types of results going forward. “Directing women to fake clinics that provide misinformation and do not provide comprehensive health services is dangerous to women’s health and undermines the integrity of Google’s search results,” the letter said. “If Google must continue to show these misleading results in search results and Google Maps, the results should, at the very least, be appropriately labeled.”

Ads on Google also seem to be affected by this issue – according to the CCDH, about 28 percent of the ads appearing at the top of search result pages for questions related to abortion are related to anti-choice clinics. In 2019, Google asked companies running abortion ads to certify whether they provide abortions. For companies that don’t actually do the procedure, Google places a “does not provide abortion” disclaimer at the bottom of the ad, but CCDH notes that some users may not always notice it.

Google spokesman Nicolas Lopez said in an emailed statement, “Any organization that wishes to advertise to people seeking information about abortion services on Google must be certified and display disclosures in the ad that clearly states whether they offer abortions or not.” ledge, “We are always looking for ways to improve our results to help people find what they are looking for, or understand that what they are looking for may not be available.”

The Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision regarding Roe v. Wade in the coming days, but received a leaked draft decision. politician This could mean that the court is planning to overturn the historic verdict. In preparation for an upcoming decision, another group of Democratic lawmakers are also urging Google to stop collecting location data from Android users, as this information could potentially be used to prosecute anyone who wants to. who has obtained an abortion in a state opposing the procedure.

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