Aug 23, 2022 - Technology

Exclusive: Yelp to flag listings for crisis pregnancy centers

An example of the notices that Yelp will place on crisis pregnancy center listings, noting that they may not be providing medical services

Image: Yelp

Yelp is adding a prominent consumer notice to crisis pregnancy center listings to more clearly distinguish them from clinics that provide abortion services, in a policy change shared first with Axios.

The big picture: Yelp's move is the latest tech-company response to a post-Roe world in which abortion information has become a significant online battleground, with both sides of the debate applying intense pressure.

Driving the news: Starting today, Yelp will add a consumer notice to both faith-based and non-faith-based crisis pregnancy centers noting that they "provide limited medical services and may not have licensed medical professionals onsite.

"It's the latest in a series of moved Yelp has made since 2018, when CEO Jeremy Stoppelman directed the company to make sure crisis pregnancy centers were differentiated from abortion clinics in the company's listings.

  • Yelp has since recategorized thousands of service providers as crisis pregnancy centers.

Catch up quick: Crisis pregnancy centers do not offer abortion services but promote themselves to people seeking abortions and then typically counsel the patients to go through with their pregnancies.

What they're saying: "After learning about the misleading nature of crisis pregnancy centers back in 2018, I’m grateful Yelp stands behind these efforts to provide consumers with access to reliable information about reproductive health services," Noorie Malik, Yelp’s VP of user operations, told Axios in an e-mail interview.

  • "It has always felt unjust to me that there are clinics in the U.S. that provide misleading information or conduct deceptive tactics to steer pregnant people away from abortion care if that’s the path they choose to take," Malik said.

Yes, but: Just noting that crisis pregnancy centers provide limited medical services doesn't address all the criticisms around such facilities. However, Malik said it should further help those seeking abortion services to find what they're looking for.

  • "Not all consumers visiting a crisis pregnancy center’s business page may be seeking out abortion services," Malik said
  • She said that Yelp would "increase efforts to better match" people who were specifically seeking abortion services with health providers that offer them, and make it less likely such users will see crisis pregnancy centers in their search results.

Between the lines: Tech companies are caught in the middle of the renewed national information fight sparked by the Supreme Court's elimination of a national right to abortion.

  • The Alphabet Workers Union said last week that they want listings for crisis pregnancy centers removed from Google as misleading.
  • Abortion rights activists have called for crisis pregnancy center listings to be more prominently labeled, citing the potential for abortion-seekers to be misled and presented with misinformation, a demand that also has the backing of some Democrat lawmakers.
  • Those who are opposed to abortion are pushing to ensure listings for crisis pregnancy centers remain prominently available online.
  • Meanwhile, more crisis pregnancy centers are opening in the wake of the Dobbs ruling.

What's next: The largest tech companies are also re-examining their policies.

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