Google has been downranking pro-life videos in abortion-related search results on YouTube, as uncovered as part of manual blacklisting and manipulation of search results uncovered by Breitbart News’Allum Bokhari. Here are just a few of the videos that Google doesn’t want you to see.
Breitbart News recently published yet another leak from within Google, which reveals that YouTube has manually intervened to blacklist pro-life videos in its search results on numerous occasions. The internal leak also revealed that Google often engages in “manual actions” in order to correct controversial search results in their search product, as well as their Google Home and Google Assistant device search results.
In December of 2018, Slate journalist April Glaser wrote an article discussing abortion-related content on YouTube. In the article, Glaser bemoaned the fact that pro-life videos ranked highly in YouTube’s search results and sought to fix this issue, contacting YouTube about it. Glaser claims that a week later the results had been altered by YouTube to feature more pro-abortion content. An excerpt from Glaser’s article can be read below:
If, until recently, you did the same over on Google-owned YouTube, it felt like you were searching in a whole other universe. Before I raised the issue with YouTube late last week, the top search results for “abortion” on the site were almost all anti-abortion—and frequently misleading. One top result was a clip called “LIVE Abortion Video on Display,” which over the course of a gory two minutes shows images of a formed fetus’ tiny feet resting in a pool of blood. Several of the top results featured a doctor named Antony Levatino, including one in which he testified to the House Judiciary Committee that Planned Parenthood was aborting fetuses “the length of your hand plus several inches” in addition to several misleading animations that showed a fetus that looks like a sentient child in the uterus. The eighth result was a video from conservative pundit Ben Shapiro, just above a video of a woman self-narrating a blog titled, “Abortion: My Experience,” with text in the thumbnail that reads, “My Biggest Mistake.” Only two of the top 15 results struck me as not particularly political, and none of the top results focused on providing dispassionate, up-to-date medical information.
I emailed YouTube Friday afternoon asking why anti-abortion videos saturated the search results for “abortion,” and if the platform thought accurate, health-focused information had a place there. By Monday morning, before the company got back to me, the search results had changed to include a number of news outlets among the top results, including a video from Vice about how women trying to get abortions are being stymied by anti-abortion centers that masquerade as clinics. The second video was a clip of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee describing his anti-abortion philosophy, and the third was a video titled “Speak Out: Abortion Is Not a Human Right.” By the end of this week, the top results (which are dynamic) included a news segment in Tamil, a video in which the director Penny Marshall (who died this week) “Opens Up on Drugs and Her Abortion,” and a clip of an anti-abortion advocate responding to the abortion-legalization law passed in Ireland. Anti-abortion content meant to enrage or provoke viewers was no longer purely dominating the results, though they still looked very different from the generally more sober Google results.
So here is a small selection of the videos that YouTube appears to have manually downranked in search results following Glaser’s emails:
The first video shows Dr. Antony Levatino testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, in her article Glaser appears to be offended that Dr. Levatino claimed that Planned Parenthood was aborting fetuses “the length of your hand plus several inches.”
Another video features a woman speaking about her experience when having an abortion and why she regrets the act:
Another video is titled “LIVE Abortion Video on Display in Washington, DC Jan. 21-22,” and shows the graphic dissection of a human fetus during an abortion:
The majority of these videos appear to be manually downranked by Google in YouTube’s search results, something which Glaser appears to be taking credit for. While Google has repeatedly claimed not to manually manipulate search results, Glaser’s claims combined with the latest internal Google leak appears to show that the company regularly blacklists and whitelists search results based on ideology and other factors.