Facebook bans ads on Ireland's abortion referendum by foreign advertisers

Groups on both sides of the campaign were consulted before the changes were made.

In a statement today, Facebook admitted it was an issue they had been "thinking about for some time".

Concerns have been raised about organisations and individuals based outside of Ireland trying to influence the outcome of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland by buying ads on Facebook.

They have created "additional election integrity tools" and "ads transparency tools" which have been fast-tracked into operation in Ireland.

Abortion has always been a divisive issue in Ireland.

If the public votes to repeal the constitutional provision, the Irish Government intends to table legislation that would permit women to abort within 12 weeks of pregnancy.

"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".

The delay in launching the feature, and the short time left in the campaign, led to criticism of the company.

Facebook said that for the objective of the referendum it would operate as though these tools were in place in Ireland. The problem came from interference in elections in the USA 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". It added: "We will then assess and act on those reports". Machine learning will also be used in this effort.

It comes as figures from the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) show up to 150,000 young people are not registered to vote.

And while Ireland forbids foreign spending in campaigns, its election law is silent on digital activity. The Scriptures don't let you off the hook so easily.When people say, you know, "Good teacher", "Prophet", "Really nice guy'. this is not how Jesus thought of Himself".

He and Carolan welcomed Facebook's move and pointed out that Google and its subsidiary YouTube had yet to make any similar commitment.

It said that this would relate to paid of advertisements on its platform.

Facebook's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified to a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees of the US Senate about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election last month.

  • Rogelio Becker