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

Pauline Obrien
May 10, 2018

"We feel the spirit of this approach is also consistent with the Irish electoral law that prohibits campaigns from accepting foreign donations", it said.

Under heightened scrutiny for its role in influencing recent political campaigns, Facebook announced it is banning foreign ads relating to Ireland's upcoming referendum on abortion.

It also comes after revelations that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica harvested users' data to micro-target political ads to select groups during the 2016 US presidential race.

The full suite of tools will not be available in time for the election on May 25.

Facebook said it would be working directly with political parties and campaign groups on both sides of the vote, who are being asked to notify the company "if they have concerns about ad campaigns".

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Helen Dixon, the Irish data protection commissioner, warned last month foreign actors could try to sway the much-anticipated poll.

Given that the 20-16 election, the face-book has generated numerous policy modifications to deal with concerns over the part it plays in politics and elections across the globe.

Another innovation will see "additional election integrity tools" implemented alongside a "verification process".

In addition, Facebook is planning to introduce a searchable database to show how much an advertiser is spending, and the demographic details of the audience that a group is trying to reach.

Feeney said that proper laws and regulations were needed in the area of social media advertising and publishing. Facebook has some automated tools at its disposal that will help identify the ads and reject them. "It seems manifest now that there should have been rules regulated before the fact".

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The May 25 referendum will decide whether abortion should be legalized in Ireland. About one in five voters are undecided.

USA -based pro-life groups are among those who have bought online ads in the country ahead of the vote, ABC reports.

The company has insisted that it is not taking any sides in the Eighth Amendment referendum campaign.

Users are now able to see all of the content originating from the Facebook account behind those posts, rather than just the ads or stories targeted at them.

Facebook isn't going to let the clusterfuck of the 2016 USA election debacle happen again. "I think Google and Facebook and all the other social media companies out there will be responsible in relation to this and are facing the consequences that can happen as a result of this", he added.

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