Google will label facilities in Search and Maps that provide abortions as “abortion clinics” starting next year. The company also said it will continue to show links to online health resources, such as Planned Parenthood, on its website and app. Google was criticized last year after the company decided not to label anti-abortion centers as such, a move that some saw as a way to sanitize the internet.
The new policy will apply only to search results, Google said. It said that the change would help users find information about abortion services without being led to sites that may be misleading, such as those offering “crisis pregnancy centers” — which often hide their true intentions under fake names or use deceptive marketing tactics — while also providing factual information about abortion care. The company said it’s been working on this policy since 2011 but wants more clarity about what constitutes an abortion clinic before making any changes. This week, we'll start showing you more details about where these services are located, so you can make informed decisions if you're looking for a nearby provider," wrote Google's John Mueller.
The company has been working with pro-life groups to ensure that their data is accurate and complete. "Since its founding, Google has worked with many organizations across the political spectrum to help improve access to information," said Mueller.
The company said that it would also remove ads for crisis pregnancy centers — fake clinics that often mislead women into believing they can find free or low-cost abortions — from its platforms and prevent them from being placed near search results. The new policy comes after two years of pressure from conservatives who argued that Google should not be allowed to profit off of misinformation about reproductive health care provided by crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs).
Google has faced pressure in recent months to address its role in spreading misinformation. The company recently announced plans to hire 10,000 workers to review content on YouTube by 2021.
Google has faced pressure because of its policies. The company is under fire for its treatment of workers, which includes the company's practice of scheduling employees in shifts that are rarely enough hours to fully cover their shifts.
The initiative comes as Google faces growing scrutiny over how it treats its workers and how much money it pays them. In January, a New York Times article revealed that Google had paid at least $31 million in compensation "bribes" to recruiters who helped place employees at other tech companies. That same month, The Intercept reported that Google had given away far more than $60 million in stock awards to employees over the past decade.
Google has said it will no longer pay recruiters based on how many job applicants they sign up for interviews, but critics say the change is too little too late and doesn't go far enough to change a culture where some employees feel pressured to accept undesirable shifts or work conditions. Google is planning to make some changes to its mapping software. When the company announced a new version of Google Maps back in May, it said that it would introduce "deep linking," which allows users to click on a link and be taken directly to a specific location on the map.
The feature has been available for years, but many people have not taken advantage of it because they weren't aware of its existence. Now Google is testing deep linking on its mobile apps and plans to roll out the feature across all platforms over time.