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Yahoo under pressure to drop deceptive ads for crisis pregnancy centers

Google just committed to stop running the misleading ads, now activists are pushing for Yahoo to follow suit

Katie McDonough
May 9, 2014 12:14AM (UTC)

After successfully persuading Google to stop running deceptive ads for so-called crisis pregnancy centers (the false information contained in the ads violated Google's terms of service), NARAL Pro-Choice America and UltraViolet have shifted their campaign's focus to Yahoo.

Like Google, Yahoo's advertising policy requires ads to be accurate -- a minimum standard that most of what's run by crisis pregnancy centers can't meet. According to the policy, Yahoo has the right to remove ads it finds to be “misleading, deceptive, false or untrue.” This pretty much sums up most of the tactics employed by crisis pregnancy centers. A congressional study of these anti-choice counseling centers revealed that  87 percent provided "false and misleading information about the physical and mental health effects of abortion and grossly exaggerated the medical risks of abortion."


As a petition from the groups notes, when you search for "abortion clinics" on Yahoo, most of the ads that show up are funded by anti-choice groups. “These ads use vague language that masks their true motives," according to the petition. "If you click through, you’ll get connected to a crisis pregnancy center ... that don’t provide or refer for abortion care."

The groups successfully pushed Google to drop misleading ads from these organizations after pointing out that nearly 80 percent of the ads run by the search engine lied about providing abortion services.

"We hope that Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer will follow Google's example and remove deceptive crisis pregnancy center ads so that women can continue to trust Yahoo to provide the accurate resources we are seeking when we use their platform," Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement. "No search engine should allow themselves to be complicit in such a manipulative campaign to lure women into ideologically driven facilities by masquerading as actual abortion service providers."


"Yahoo is throwing women to the wolves on this issue," Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet, also said in the statement. "Desperate women seeking help are being directed by Yahoo to predatory centers where they will face harassment, aggression, and outright lies about their health and safety, and that is unacceptable. Yahoo should remove these ads immediately."




Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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