Facebook bans all referendum ads paid for by foreign sources

Abortion referendum Ireland: Facebook ban ads on Eight Amendment referendum by foreign advertisers

Abortion referendum Ireland: Facebook ban ads on Eight Amendment referendum by foreign advertisers

Facebook has said it will block ads relating to Ireland's forthcoming referendum on abortion that do not originate from advertisers inside the country.

The heated pro-life versus pro-choice debate has led to reports of foreign influencers attempting to sway the Irish people through online campaigns.

Previously, Facebook launched a "view ads" feature in Ireland on 25 April, enabling users to see every ad that any advertiser is running on the platform in Ireland at the same time.

They said, 'Our company approach is to build tools to increase transparency around political advertising so that people know who is paying for the ads they are seeing and to ensure any organisation running a political ad is located in that country'.

Facebook has not applied such a policy to British elections or referendums.

"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", the company said in a statement.

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"We also welcome comments from the Press Ombudsman Peter Feeney this afternoon that this move will hinder forces seeking to manipulate the democratic process in Ireland, and also his public appeal to tech giants likes Facebook and Google to face up their responsibilities and role in influencing democratic outcomes". "It's not just about Facebook". "It seems manifest now that there should have been rules regulated before the fact".

Europe in particular has become a testing ground for some of Facebook's changes to protect against political interference. About one in five voters are undecided.

The move comes amid growing alarm from politicians and activists about outside influence ahead of the May 25 vote on repealing Ireland's abortion ban.

"It's not necessarily underhanded to try and identify targets for advertising, but if you are not being transparent about who you are representing, then it's a problem", he said. The groups have a dedicated communications channel with Facebook that they can use to report campaigns they suspect may be paid for by groups outside the country.

In April, media reported that the personal information of about 50 million Facebook users had been harvested without their permission by Cambridge Analytica.

Nor is it clear what proportion of the total amount spent on Facebook ads is made up of foreign-sourced ads of the type that are now banned by the social-media company.

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