Google changes policy to block misleading ads for anti-abortion groups

A certification process would require organizations to identify themselves as either providing or not providing abortions

Google changed its advertising policy this week, after facing scrutiny for providing tens of thousands of dollars in free advertising to an anti-abortion group that runs misleading ads designed to deter women from terminating their pregnancies.

Starting in June, advertisers running ads using keywords related to getting an abortion will first have to distinguish themselves as an organization that either provides abortions or does not provide abortions, according to the new policy update.

The advertisers must get certified by submitting an application that requires basic information about the organization.

Depending on how youre certified, 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 new policy reads.

The disclosures will show on all search ad formats. This added transparency will help ensure that users have the necessary information to decide which abortion-related ads are most relevant to them.

The policy change comes after a report in the Guardian revealed the Obria Group ran ads suggesting it provides abortion services at its medical clinics, but actually sought to deter abortion-minded women from terminating their pregnancies.

Obria runs a network of clinics known as crisis pregnancy centers nationwide that provide some prenatal treatment, such as pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and counseling, but also seek to deter women from seeking abortions and do not offer referrals for alternative treatment.

Obria was awarded a $120,000 Google advertising grant in 2015, according to a public filing. In 2011, it received nearly $32,000.

The report led to pressure from lawmakers in Washington, who denounced the intentional misinformation campaigns of organizations such as the Obria Group.

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