Facebook to block foreign spending on Irish abortion vote ads

The Most Rev William Crean claimed that repealing the Eighth Amendment would make abortion seem morally acceptable

The company said, '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.

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.

The social media company has made the decision amid growing concern that individuals and organisations based outside of the country are trying to sway the result of the referendum and influence undecided voters through ad campaigns.

"This is an issue we have been thinking about for some time".

The Irish Transparent Referendum Initiative has identified several ads paid for by United Kingdom and US-based anti-abortion groups targeting users in Ireland ahead of the referendum.

Facebook said other features promised last month have also been fast-tracked in order to launch them in the run-up to the vote.

Concerns had been raised about global organisations trying to influence the outcome of the upcoming abortion referendum by buying ads on Facebook. The problem came from interference in elections in the United States and in other areas as well.

Mr Breen said he expects the Data Commissioner to work closely with Facebook to ensure there is no interference in elections or referendums. "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".

Irish law bars foreign money from going to political parties and registered campaigns.

Most nations, including the usa, prohibit foreign groups from advertising in elections that are domestic, however regulating the spending is more hard with more political activity moving online.

As for who is paying for those ads, said Sheridan, "the only people who know that for certain are Facebook themselves".

The Green Party has welcomed the move and is now calling on Google to introduce similar restrictions on its YouTube platform. The Times previously reported that a US-based anti-abortion group had paid to target Irish voters...

Craig Dwyer, one of the Initiative's founders, said they have seen an increase of 150 advertisements over the past week alone, which include domestic and foreign messaging.

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