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7 Feb 2023

Poppy Noor, The Guardian

USA: Research finds Google targeting low-income women with ads for anti-abortion pregnancy centers; incl. co. comment

"Google targets low-income US women with ads for anti-abortion pregnancy centers, study shows," 7 Feb. 2023

Low-income women in some cities are more likely than their wealthier counterparts to be targeted by Google ads promoting anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers when they search for abortion care, researchers at the Tech Transparency Project have found.

... “By pointing low-income women to [crisis pregnancy centers] more frequently than higher-income women in states with restrictive laws, Google may delay these women from finding an actual abortion clinic to get a legal and safe abortion,” says Katie Paul, the director of the Tech Transparency Project.

... Although companies buying ads with Google can selectively target the groups they want to reach – including by income – Paul adds that many users won’t be aware they are being targeted by Google in this way.

... Google has repeatedly been pressed to make changes to its search engine to curtail these issues. In 2022, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia and Representative Elissa Slotkin of Michigan wrote to the company twice, urging it to stop misdirecting users searching for abortion care to these crisis centers in Google Maps. The lawmakers also called on Google to limit the way crisis centers appear in search results and ads, and to add disclaimers clearly indicating whether a search result is an organization that provides abortions or not.

... The Guardian contacted Google for comment and ... an unnamed spokesman sent a response.

“We don’t allow advertisers to specifically target a ‘low income’ bracket with ads, and we have strict rules about how location can be used to serve locally relevant ads. It’s important that people seeking abortion-related resources know what services an advertiser actually provides, so we require any organization that wants to target queries related to getting an abortion to be certified and clearly disclose whether they do or do not offer abortions. Last year, we updated these disclosures to make them more visible for users,” the response said.