Published: Wed, May 09, 2018

Facebook bans ads from outside Ireland related to abortion referendum

Facebook bans ads from outside Ireland related to abortion referendum

Facebook has banned foreign spending on ads related to an upcoming Irish vote on its abortion law, saying it's concerned groups outside of the country may try to influence the outcome of the sensitive referendum.

Facebook was responding to criticism that unaccountable foreign advertising is gaining traction in the referendum campaign.

Facebook says it won't accept any foreign ads related to the upcoming abortion referendum in Ireland.

In April, we hosted an information session for referendum campaign groups on Facebook's advertising and content policies.

Concerns had been raised about global organisations trying to influence the outcome of the upcoming abortion referendum by buying ads on Facebook. As a result, individuals and groups from outside of Ireland - primarily from the United States, Britain and Canada - have been waging an online campaign to influence the vote, according to the Transparent Referendum Initiative, a nonpartisan organization tracking paid online advertising.

However, the move will not prevent ads that are funded from overseas if they are placed through organisations located in Ireland.

The ban means that individuals and organisations outside of Ireland can not launch ad campaigns aimed at voters.

Facebook explains: "This change will apply to ads we determine to be coming from foreign entities which are attempting to influence the outcome of the vote on May 25th".

Facebook stated on Tuesday that bands taking care of each side of the Irish referendum could have the capacity to flag ads suspected of arriving from overseas associations.

Minister of State for Trade, Business and the EU Digital Single Market Pat Breen said that most organisations in Ireland "are sensible" when asked about the lack of prevention of funding from overseas to organisations located in Ireland.

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

"Most organisations here are sensible and we don't have any problems I think with a lot of them in this country".

We are deploying Election Integrity Artificial Intelligence for the referendum, similar to what was established in advance of recent elections in France, Germany and Italy. "It's a start, it's a good start".

"We understand the sensitivity of this campaign and will be working hard to ensure neutrality at all stages", a Facebook spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Google has announced a €150m investment in the expansion of its data centre operations in south Co Dublin.

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