On Friday, Slate’s April Glaser reported on YouTube search results, claiming that she had encouraged YouTube to hide “gory videos rife with misinformation” and promote a liberal view on the abortion issue as if it were the only correct one.
Glaser contrasted the “staid” and “sober” Google results for “abortion” — Planned Parenthood links and maps for abortion clinics at the top — with the radical and misleading pro-life results from searching “abortion” on YouTube.
“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,” Glaser breathlessly reported. “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.”
Glaser described “several misleading animations that showed a fetus that looks like a sentient child in the uterus,” and lamented that “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.”
The story did not end there, however. To hear her tell it, this intrepid Slate reporter made the world a better place by protesting to YouTube.
“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,” Glaser wrote. “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 Vice video, “The Fake Abortion Clinics Of America: Misconception,” does indeed slander pro-life crisis pregnancy centers (which now far outnumber abortion clinics) as “fake clinics.” Because these centers — which provide counseling and free ultrasounds, among other help for women in need — offer women options besides abortion, Vice branded them “fake clinics.” The abortion movement has attempted to shut them down, and this year the Supreme Court struck down a repressive California law that would have forced pro-life centers to advertise abortion.
Thanks, presumably, to April Glaser, I got the same misleading Slate video as the top result for “abortion” in a YouTube search. She reported also seeing one video from former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) and another entitled “Speak Out: Abortion Is Not a Human Right.” Neither of these appeared in my search, which featured BuzzFeed videos attempting to reduce the stigma around abortion, a video from “D News” arguing abortion is not dangerous, Al Jazeera videos explaining how to get an abortion, and a BBC video attempting to remove the stigma.
From Glaser’s article, it seems my results might be more representative. She reported that a week after her complaint to YouTube, “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.”
Yet this Slate writer was far from satisfied by her supposed ability to influence YouTube in a pro-abortion direction. She lamented, “There are plenty of videos from credible reproductive health- care providers on YouTube, but none of those videos surfaced in the top 20 results for ‘abortion’—both before I asked about it and now.”
Oh horror! The top ten results do not feature videos from Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics. Meanwhile, pro-life videos have seemingly started disappearing from the search results, but to Glaser that’s a sign of progress.
Glaser rightly noted that YouTube search results matter. More than 1.8 billion people log into YouTube every month. Naturally, the pro-abortion author suggested people tune in to the platform to “look for information” and “that could easily include someone who is considering getting an abortion.”
Pro-life videos “gave an inaccurate portrait of what getting an abortion is like,” Glaser argued. She blasted videos that show “a fetus with extended arms and legs and fully formed facial features,” even though most abortions take place in the first eight weeks of pregnancy when the baby is extremely small. She also claimed that risks for abortion are extremely low, overlooking the long-term increase in breast cancer chances and the psychological and spiritual effects of abortion.
Glaser started from the position that a fetus is not a human being from the moment of conception, and therefore any attempt to personalize an unborn baby is misleading.
Furthermore, she revealed her utter inability to see the other side of the issue by constantly presenting pro-life arguments as propaganda. In an offhand comment, she compared pro-life views and skepticism about climate alarmism to Holocaust denial, lumping all three into “topics that attract conspiracists.”
Glaser reported that after her complaint, YouTube changed the results.
In the text of her article, she admitted that “YouTube did not address whether and how it tweaked the results for ‘abortion.'”
Like Google, YouTube gives personalized search results, and as Glaser admitted in her article these results are “dynamic.” In other words, it stands to reason that YouTube may have changed the algorithm in response to her, but each user gets different results, so it is impossible to know just how broad any such changes might be.
From my experience, it seems YouTube may have changed the algorithm to de-prioritize pro-life videos, engaging in the kind of censorship Glaser requested, in the name of fighting “misinformation.”
This would be in keeping with YouTube’s history of censoring conservative views. Last year, the conservative video non-profit PragerU sued Google and YouTube for “intentional” censorship of conservative speakers. YouTube continues to place PragerU’s videos — which are dispassionate and logical, and many of which are pro-life — out of reach to users in its “restricted mode.”
Big Tech companies seem to prioritize more liberal “civil rights” concerns over the free speech of conservatives, often censoring conservative voices in the name of fighting “hate speech.” Yet organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) are far from satisfied, and a coalition of liberal groups recently demanded that Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg step down from Facebook’s board of directors.
Pro-life Americans should respond to April Glaser’s activism by writing YouTube themselves, encouraging the platform to balance abortion activism with videos defending the dignity of the unborn.
No matter how much abortion activists brand pro-life views as “misinformation,” they cannot change the fact that every unborn baby has unique human DNA from the moment of conception. Debate on the abortion issue is far from over, and silencing pro-life voices is only likely to make them shout all the louder.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.