Facebook bans foreign advertisers from Irish abortion referendum

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Facebook is no longer accepting referendum related ads from advertisers based outside of Ireland.

The social media giant said organisations outside of Ireland had been buying ads to influence the outcome of the vote.

Facebook has previously committed to introduce such tools, but says they are not yet ready in time for the Eighth Amendment referendum.

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Facebook is to block foreign adverts concerning Ireland's abortion referendum.

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.


A 25 May referendum could repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Republic of Ireland's constitution, which states "the right to life of the unborn".

We have already begun to roll out the first of our ads transparency tools in Ireland.

In April, Irish data protection commissioner Helen Dixon said it was possible that foreign actors could try to sway the referendum. The problem came from interference in elections in the U.S. and in other areas as well. "All their announcements seem created to stave off regulation, and for me it boils down to do we allow them to self-regulate, or do we regulate ourselves".

We have also built relationships with political parties, groups representing both sides of the campaign and with the Transparent Referendum Initiative, who we are asking to notify us if they have concerns about ad campaigns.

He added: "We've seen preroll ads on YouTube, display ads on any number of sites, suggested results on Google linking to pro- or anti- pages, and it's not at all clear who is behind these". We will also be using machine learning to help us with this effort to identify ads that should no longer be running. Two weeks ago Liz Carolan, its founder, said her group "had picked up 144 different pages paying for ads at one point in time over the last few months". It demonstrates that the Yes campaign's message of care and compassion for women in Ireland is hitting home with people across the country.

It said that this would relate to paid of advertisements on its platform. Facebook's advertising system has become a favorite of political groups because it is largely automated and makes it easy to target narrow segments of voters.

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