Australian abortion and contraceptive provider’s ads banned by Google – The Guardian

MSI Australia has been prevented from promoting its services through paid ads on Google since 3 December
Abortion and contraceptive provider MSI Australia says Google has banned its advertising in searches under a misinterpretation of law in Australia.
Since 3 December, MSI Australia has been prevented from promoting its services through paid ads on Google, with the tech company placing a wide-ranging ban on advertising links to the MSI website in paid advertising.
Guardian Australia understands the ad ban may have arisen due to Google interpreting mention of medical abortions on the MSI Australia website as being the promotion of abortion-inducing drugs, despite the drugs not being named on the website.
“We have longstanding policies that govern abortion-related ads on Google’s platforms,” a Google spokesperson said. “Abortion advertisements can run in Australia as long as the advertiser is certified. However, under local legal requirements, abortion-inducing drugs are not allowed to be marketed or promoted.
The spokesperson said a review had identified wording on the MSI website that might go against the rules that will need to be updated before ads can return.
“After reviewing the ads in question, we are working intently with the advertiser to clarify some minor amendments that will enable them to run policy compliant ads again as soon as possible.”
A similar block on ads was reversed in 2019 after clinics reported a drop in website traffic and a drop in bookings, and it wasn’t until this month that the ads began being banned again.
MSI had been forced to completely redesign its website at the time in order to not get caught up in the ban on ads.
The MSI Australia managing director, Jamal Hakim, said the new ban was another misinterpretation of Australian laws.
“It’s like Groundhog Day, Google has yet again enforced a blanket ban of abortion campaigns in Australia,” he said. “We are sick and tired of advertising policies being misinterpreted and restricting the ability of people to find accurate and compassionate information about abortion.
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“Abortion is legal in Australia but it is not easily accessible. Google’s ban is restricting abortion access.”
MSI Australia receives over 160,000 calls per year, with three in four seeking information or support, the organisation said, and called for the situation to be resolved as quickly as possible.
Since 2019, Google has required abortion providers to be certified in order to advertise their services with Google, in a bid to crack down on misleading ads steering women away from abortion providers.

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