Googling “pro life organizations” won’t always give a reliable list of organizations that advocate for and work to protect life. The results might even list the nation’s largest abortion organization instead.
Upon entering the key phrase into Google’s search bar, Planned Parenthood pops up, not as the 7th or 8th group listed, but as the first group in Google’s results. The result is cause for concern among parties interested in preserving life who are presented with Planned Parenthood as a resource.
Google uses a complex algorithm that draws from a variety of factors to yield top search results. Pregnancy centers and abortion businesses compete through ads, build search-engine optimization (SEO) and other methods. Google Maps results, however, are algorithm-based and not impacted by ad sales or keywords in listings, according to Google Communications Manager Liz Davidoff.
Google also prioritizes actual feedback from clients through the Google My Business feature. Fake clients writing deleterious accounts of their experiences have complicated that feedback mechanism. Google has removed over 40 false reviews written about pregnancy centers.
When women Google where they can go to get an abortion, pro-life pregnancy centers intended to give them support during times of crisis are often popping up as results, a mid-February report showed. “According to NARAL’s research, using the search engine to find ‘abortion clinics’ led users to a crisis pregnancy center about 79 percent of the time,” freelance writer Robin Marty wrote in Gizmodo, explaining how Google Maps is pointing women more frequently to pregnancy help centers than to abortion clinics.
It’s clear that the opposite is occurring as well, given that a Google search of pro-life organizations presents a similar conundrum.
“It’s definitely a problem that [Google] should be aware of and address,” Molly Duane, staff attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, told The Guardian, expressing concern that women looking to abort may be directed to centers that will encourage them to think more heavily on their decision. (RELATED: Are Pro-Life Centers Winning On Google? Reports Say They Are)
Google’s pro-life algorithm hiccup coincides with Planned Parenthood’s launch of an aggressive initiative intended to expand abortion access across every state in the U.S. (RELATED: Planned Parenthood Goes On The ‘Offense’ For ‘Real Policy Change’ To Expand Abortion Access)
“Today, we’re going on the offense,” Planned Parenthood’s Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said Feb. 13 officially announcing Planned Parenthood’s initiative launch. “We’ve been marching, mobilizing, and organizing — and now we’re channeling that into real policy change.”
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