Anti-Abortion Clinics Are Running Misleading Ads on Social Media

My campaign with ParentsTogether and MoveOn is just part of the mounting pressure on companies to stop promoting these organizations. A Bloomberg report found that Google Maps “regularly misleads” people searching for abortion clinics in the U.S. — a quarter of the top Google Maps search results are actually crisis pregnancy centers. Recently, YouTube announced they will no longer allow abortion misinformation, Yelp said they will flag crisis pregnancy center locations for users and, according to the Associated Press, Google employees recently petitioned the company to protect Google users by blocking advertisements that misleadingly direct people to these crisis centers. Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok must quickly follow suit and take action.

In the years following my experience in the anti-abortion movement, I fully changed my views. I changed my mind about Planned Parenthood, often the villain in pro-life stories, when I went there for a pap smear and a nurse discovered my birth control dose was putting me at serious medical risk. I changed my mind about abortion procedures when I tried to get pregnant and learned accurate science about how pregnancy works. But nothing changed me more than actually becoming pregnant — two painful, complicated, pregnancies that were desperately wanted and produced children I deeply love. Parenthood is life-consuming. It is beautiful, exhausting, and delicate. It should never be forced.

More than 37,000 people have signed my petition with ParentsTogether and MoveOn to demand that social media platforms ban crisis pregnancy center ads. As long as these centers can advertise on social media, these companies are complicit in disinformation that harms teens. I’ll never be able to undo the harm I did to the young people who walked into the crisis pregnancy center I volunteered for, but we all — regardless of how we’ve felt in the past — can fight for a future where youth can make empowered, informed decisions about their own bodies. If social media companies care at all about their young users, they can change too.

Editor’s note: In a statement to Teen Vogue, a Snapchat spokesperson said the company uses “human review processes to fact-check all political and advocacy ads, which would include any ads for abortion, reproductive health care, and ‘crisis pregnancy centers.’ While we allow legal businesses to appear on the Map, we do not market or promote those businesses in any way. And if businesses or other entities attempt to misidentify themselves in an effort to mislead Snapchatters through the Snap Map, we remove those locations from view.” TikTok and Instagram did not respond to requests for comment.

Nakia Stephens, platform campaigns director at MoveOn, contributed to this piece.

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