By Associated Press | Updated: 22 July 2022
YouTube will begin removing misleading videos about abortion in response to falsehoods being spread about the procedure that is being banned or restricted across a broad swath of the US.
The move announced Thursday by the Google-owned video site comes about a month after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the case that had protected the legality of abortion in the country for nearly 50 years.
YouTube said its crackdown will expunge content promoting unsafe at-home abortions, as well as misinformation about the safety of undergoing the procedure in clinics located in states where it remains legal.
The purge of misleading abortion videos will ramp up over the next few weeks, according to YouTube.
The Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade has increased pressure on technology companies to take steps so that their devices and digital services can’t be used to shadow women seeking abortions or steer them in directions that could threaten their health.
Earlier this month, Google announced it will automatically purge information about users who visit abortion clinics or other places that could trigger legal problems in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
But some members of Congress have been pushing Google to limit the appearance of anti-abortion pregnancy centres in the results of its influential search engine — a step that 17 Republican attorneys general on Thursday warned would expose the company to potential legal repercussions.
A month after some members of Congress urged Google to limit the appearance of anti-abortion pregnancy centres in certain abortion-related search results, 17 Republican attorneys general are warning the company that doing so could invite investigations and possible legal action.
“Suppressing pro-life and pro-mother voices at the urging of government officials would violate the most fundamental tenet of the American marketplace of ideas,” the attorneys general wrote in a letter Thursday to Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and its parent company.
The Republicans took issue with a June 17 letter to the company from US Senator Mark Warner, D-Virginia, and Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Michigan, which was co-signed by 19 other members of Congress.
That letter cites research by the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate, which found that Google searches for “abortion clinic near me” and “abortion pill” turned up results for centres that counsel clients against having an abortion.
Some of these places, known as crisis pregnancy centres, also have been accused of providing misleading information about abortion and contraception. Many are religiously affiliated.
The letter from the Republican AGs defends the work of crisis pregnancy centres. It notes that such centres often provide services such as free ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and parenting and prenatal education classes. It also argues that “at least some” Google users who search for information about abortion expect to find information about alternatives.
It asked the California-based company to respond within 14 days and explain whether it has or will take any steps to treat crisis pregnancy centres any differently than before the leak of the draft Supreme Court decision.