- (Photo: Reuters/Joshua Lott)
Weeks after Google pulled pro-life ads from its "abortion clinics" search results, Yahoo has also followed suit after being petitioned by the pro-choice groups NARAL Pro-Choice America and UltraViolet.
"We have found at least some of the ads to be out of compliance with our policies and we are taking them down," CNET quoted a Yahoo spokesperson as saying. "We're in the process of reviewing the other ads and will take similar action if any are found to not be in compliance with our policies."
NARAL and UltraViolet alleged that the "majority" of ads that popped up when users typed "abortion clinics" into Yahoo's search were "deceptive," funded by pro-life groups and discouraged women from having abortions using titles such as "Free Abortion Clinic."
Yahoo's policy states that "ad offers and their landing page must be directly relevant to each other" and that it may reject or retract any ads found to be "misleading, deceptive, false or untrue."
"We are pleased that Yahoo has confirmed that some of these deceptive crisis pregnancy center ads violate their advertising policies and stated that they will remove them so that women can continue to trust the search engine for accurate information," NARAL president Ilyse Hogue said in a statement. "Women making this personal, medical decision should have comprehensive resources and accurate information. … We will work with Yahoo to pinpoint the ads that are masquerading as abortion clinics so they are promptly taken down when they appear."
Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet, added, "The harm done by these ads cannot be overstated – women in vulnerable positions are being lured into false clinics where they are harassed, yelled at, and given inaccurate information, all for seeking abortion care."
"Groups that are behind these ads, like Online for Life, openly admit to seeking to reach 'abortion-determined women' and share some of their results," the pro-choice groups said, quoting Online for Life as stating that, "Every month there are approximately more than 2 million internet searches for words such as abortion or abortion clinic."
Online for Life has partnered with 47 crisis pregnancy centers in 21 states, the two groups noted.
Removal of material with conservative Christian viewpoints is not a new phenomenon.
In June 2013, the Apple Corporation pulled from its iTunes store a mobile app created by Setting Captives Free, a nondenominational ministry which offers free courses aimed at helping users battle "habitual sins," such as sexual impurity, substance abuse, self-injury, and gambling.
The app was pulled following protest over one of the courses, titled "Door of Hope," which seeks to free users from "the bondage of homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ and the cross!"
The Apple store reportedly removed the app after the group AllOut circulated a petition, signed by 65,000 people, which denounced the app as being capable of causing "terrible harm to lesbian, gay, bi, and trans people, or anyone forced to try to change who they are or who they love."
Also in June 2013, Fox radio host Todd Starnes revealed that he had been temporarily banned from Facebook and had a post of his referencing Jesus, the Bible and the National Rifle Association deleted for "violating" the social media's community standards.
The message that Facebook deleted read: "I'm about as politically incorrect as you can get. I'm wearing an NRA ball cap, eating a Chick-fil-A sandwich, reading a Paula Deen cookbook and sipping a 20-ounce sweet tea while sitting in my Cracker Barrel rocking chair with the Gaither Vocal Band singing 'Jesus Saves' on the stereo and a Gideon's Bible in my pocket. Yes sir, I'm politically incorrect and happy as a June bug."
In 2012, the NRB and the John Milton Project created a Free Speech Charter for the Internet, calling on "major web-based media technology companies to voluntarily adopt robust, free speech standards."
The proposed standards stated: "Permit all manner of content, information and opinions on their web-based platforms regardless of the viewpoint expressed unless that content, information or opinion fits squarely within one of the 'traditional,' 'well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem.'"
However, earlier this year, 12 members of the House of Representatives signed H.R. 3878, a bill that would launch an investigation into any "role" that might be played by radio, television, and the Internet to supposedly "encourage" the commission of hate crimes.
Responding to the bill, CP contributor Craig Parshall then wrote that the proposal is not only audacious, but it would, if passed, be downright dangerous. Such an "investigation" would be a prelude to proposed free-speech-infringing regulations that would be almost certain to follow, he said.