Facebook will block ads from overseas ahead of abortion vote

11 May, 2018, 01:06 | Author: Wilson Dawson
  • 'A welcome development': Facebook says it will ban all Eighth referendum ads from foreign sources

Facebook announced it will not accept any ads on its platform related to the upcoming abortion referendum if the advertiser is from outside of Ireland.

The vote has drawn global attention and last month Helen Dixon, the Irish data protection commissioner, said it was possible that foreign actors could try to tilt the outcome.

The referendum on whether to end Ireland's constitutional ban on abortion, a vote that is expected to be tight, has drawn concerns that foreign groups will try to influence the debate through social media.

Irish law prohibits foreign funding for political campaigns, although this does not apply to social media advertising.

The Facebook statement added: "The additional election integrity tools we are building include a verification process that requires the advertiser to be resident in the country where the election is taking place".

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.

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


On May 25, Irish voters will take part in a referendum on whether to liberalize Ireland's divisive abortion laws, which are some of the strictest rules in the world.

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

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

It's as much as they can do at the moment, but we believe that the Data Commissioner will work closely with them in the future to ensure that Facebook remains independent and doesn't interfere with what's happening in the country", he added. Our goal is simple: "to help ensure a free, fair and transparent vote on this important issue".

Liz Carolan of the Transparent Referendum Initiative, a group set up to monitor online content during the campaign, said that Facebook's decision to ban foreign-sourced advertising was a step in the right direction, but that more needed to be done. "Yet we have even less information on these advertisements than we do on Facebook ads".

Facebook said that its ban on ads not from the Republic would be effective from 8 May.

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