Facebook to ban all foreign ads relating to abortion referendum

Facebook to ban all foreign ads relating to abortion referendum

Facebook to ban all foreign ads relating to abortion referendum

Ireland has a blanket ban on abortion embedded in the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, dating back to 1983; that amendment was also introduced via a referendum.

Abortion has always been a divisive issue in Ireland.

The company's response illustrates its more aggressive approach to regulating political advertising since the 2016 campaign, when the company disclosed that it had sold more than $100,000 worth of political ads to Russia-linked accounts.

Mr Breen said he expects the Data Commissioner to work closely with Facebook to ensure there is no interference in elections or referendums.

In a statement, Facebook said: "Today, as part of our efforts to help protect the integrity of elections and referendums from undue influence, we will begin rejecting ads related to the referendum if they are being run by advertisers based outside of Ireland".

Many countries, including the United States, prohibit foreign groups from advertising in domestic elections, but regulating the spending is hard with more political activity moving online.

Ads uploaded to Facebook by organisations based in the country could still be funded by foreign sources, however.

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Facebook has also indicated it will implement the same rule for future elections in Ireland, disallowing any ads that do not come from registered entities here. The business has shifted its news-feed algorithm to deemphasize political news, and has appreciated thousands of moderators internationally to spot rumors and extremist articles.

Facebook said that its ban on ads not from the Republic would be effective from 8 May. About one in five voters are undecided.

The company will rely on reports from established campaign groups relating to foreign-based ads.

"It's not necessarily underhanded to try and identify targets for advertising, but if you are not being transparent about who you are representing, then it's a problem", he said.

Previously, Facebook launched a "view ads" feature in Ireland on 25 April, enabling users to see every ad that any advertiser is running on the platform in Ireland at the same time.

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. "Yet we have even less information on these advertisements than we do on Facebook ads".

The campaigners were pushing for Facebook and other social media companies to ban the practice, saying online and offline regulation should be the same.

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