Google Maps and Google Search will better identify health clinics that provide abortions by displaying clear labels when showing search results. The update to Maps and Search follows the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which terminated federal protections for abortion rights.
After that, legislators urged Google to provide better results for abortion searches in its products. Reports showed that Google Maps and Search might direct people to fake clinics and crisis pregnancy centers that do not offer abortions.
Google confirmed the Maps and Search changes to TechCrunch. The company will now show a “Provides abortions” label for healthcare facilities where abortion services have been confirmed.
If Google doesn’t have confirmation, the label will read “Might not provide abortions.”
Moreover, Google will also make it easier for people to expand their Google Maps searches for nearby abortion clinics. Users will have an option to “search farther away” if Maps or Search can’t find any nearby results.
“When people turn to Google to find local information, we aim to help them easily explore the range of places available so they can determine which are most helpful to them,” a Google spokesperson told TechCrunch.
“For a number of categories where we’ve received confirmation that places offer specific services, we’ve been working for many months on more useful ways to display those results. We’re now rolling out an update that makes it easier for people to find places that offer the services they’ve searched for or broaden their results to see more options. We followed our standard testing and evaluation process to confirm that these updates are more helpful for people.”
In mid-June, US lawmakers urged Google to fix abortion searches on its platforms. They warned that the results might be steering women to “fake clinics.”
In early July, Google announced that it will automatically delete visits to abortion clinics from Location History.
A more in-depth Bloomberg investigation earlier this month showed that Google Maps might regularly mislead people who search for abortion clinics. At the time, Google told Bloomberg that it works hard to offer customers business results that are relevant and accurate.
Also, Google said it works to remove misleading results from its products. The company does so when it becomes aware that businesses misrepresent themselves in Google Maps and Search.