Ireland: Facebook to curb foreign ads related to abortion referendum

10 May, 2018, 00:24 | Author: Shawn Conner
  • Latest poll shows majority 'Yes' vote for upcoming referendum

Ireland bars political contributions from overseas, but the law does not apply to social media advertising.

The company said the ban related to Ireland would be effective from May 8, and enforced partly through campaign groups identifying and reporting suspected foreign adverts.

However, this action did not extend to blocking ads simply because they had been placed by foreign organisations.

"This is an issue we have been thinking about for some time", Facebook said.

With a contentious May 25 referendum on Ireland's abortion ban approaching, Facebook said Tuesday that it would block political advertising from groups based outside the country. The page seemed designed, Sheridan said, to draw in undecided voters who would then be targeted with personalized ads for the campaign that seeks to maintain Ireland's conservative abortion laws.

The referendum on whether to end Ireland's constitutional ban on abortion, a vote that is expected to be tight, has drawn concerns that foreign groups will try to influence the debate through social media.

Facebook said that for the objective of the referendum it would operate as though these tools were in place in Ireland.

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The social media group, under scrutiny for its role in Britain's Brexit referendum and the 2016 US presidential election, made the move following criticism that foreign advertising could be a decisive in the campaign to overhaul one of the world's strictest abortion regimes.

It says its "view ads" feature - which enables users to see all of the ads any advertiser is running on Facebook at the same time - has been fast tracked and is operational today.

"What we are now doing for the referendum on the Eighth Amendment will allow us to operate as though these tools, which are not yet fully available, were in place with respect to foreign referendum-related advertising", the company statement added.

Facebook has been accused of allowing its platform to be used by outside entities to impact the outcomes of key votes, including Britain's Brexit referendum and the 2016 United States presidential election.

Facebook says it has learned the lessons of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA election, and is working on changes to make election campaigns more transparent. Our goal is simple: "to help ensure a free, fair and transparent vote on this important issue".

The results were welcomed by Together For Yes who say poll shows consistent support for a Yes vote on the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

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