Google has informed lawmakers that its searches, maps and ads will aim to accurately label abortion clinics so they can easily be found — and so that women won’t be tricked by anti-abortion fakes.
The company is rolling out an update that will make it easier for people to find places that offer the services they’re searching for — with a commitment to accuracy, according to Google.
Under the updated system, the company will add its own “provides abortions” label to places and ads for facilities where such services are actually available — as well as a “might not provide abortions” label when Google has been unable to confirm the procedure is offered, Google representative Mark Isakowitz said in a letter Thursday to Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.).
More accurate information would help women more easily locate clinics, and would also help prevent them from seeking the procedure at facilities that appear to be abortion clinics but actually use heavy-handed tactics to pressure people against abortions.
Google officials said the company will confirm that certain places provide abortions through regularly calling them directly and collaborating with “authoritative” data sources.
“We have extra layers of verification in place to help us confirm that places labeled as ‘abortion clinics’ on Google Maps and Search offer abortions,” Isakowitz noted in the letter.
“We [also] provide a way for anyone to flag problematic reviews [and] inappropriate content,” he added. “People can also report misleading business information to Google … we take the risk of fake business profiles seriously and carry out a number of steps to combat them.”
The letter was in response to lawmakers who complained in a letter in June about misleading Google map and search results. They said that 37% of Google map results and 11% of search results for “abortion clinics near me” and “abortion pill” in states with abortion trigger bans were actually for anti-abortion facilities.
Google has also been under pressure from employees to address the problem.
Warner on Thursday praised Google’s commitment to provide accurate results.
“I welcome the changes that Google has announced so that women seeking abortion services aren’t directed towards fake clinics that traffic in misinformation and don’t provide comprehensive health services,” he said on Twitter.