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Yahoo yanks anti-abortion ads for violating its policies

After Google wiped several ads that discouraged women from having abortions because they violated the company’s advertising policies, Yahoo now does the same.

In a test, CNET was able to intercept and read Yahoo instant messages because the company has still not turned on encryption, at least 10 years after the security vulnerability became public.
Declan McCullagh/CNET

On the heels of Google pulling a slew of anti-abortion ads from its "abortion clinics" search results, Yahoo has now followed suit. The move comes after the two tech giants were petitioned by pro-choice groups UltraViolet and Naral Pro-Choice America.

The groups said that when users typed "abortion clinics" into Yahoo's search function, the "majority" of ads that appeared were funded by anti-abortion groups that discouraged women from having abortions. Reportedly, these ads either used vague language or posed as abortion providers with ad titles such as "Free Abortion Clinic."

According to Naral and UltraViolet, this type of advertising was "deceptive" and violated Yahoo's advertising policy. The tech company's policy says that "ad offers and their landing page must be directly relevant to each other" and the company reserves the right to reject or retract any ads that are "misleading, deceptive, false or untrue."

Yahoo has indeed found some of these ads popping up in its search results and told CNET that it has now removed them.

"We have found at least some of the ads to be out of compliance with our policies and we are taking them down," a Yahoo spokesperson told CNET. "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."

Many anti-abortion groups don't keep it a secret that they're paying for placement of Internet ads. The group Online for Life has an ongoing campaign geared toward "using the Internet to rescue babies from abortion." The group says it uses "innovative Internet marketing techniques" to reach "abortion-determined women" and then guides them to nearby "life-affirming pregnancy resource centers."

After being petitioned by Naral last month, Google decided to remove anti-abortion ads that violated its advertising policies, according to The Wall Street Journal. During its Google campaign, Naral found that in more than 70 US cities 79 percent of the ads were from "crisis pregnancy centers" that "don't provide or refer for abortion care."