Facebook Bans Non-Irish Abortion Poll Ads

Angelica Greene
May 9, 2018

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

What does it mean for advertising around the referendum?


Facebook is no longer accepting referendum related ads from advertisers based outside of Ireland.

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

On May 25, Ireland will hold a national referendum on whether to retain or repeal the eighth amendment to its constitution, which recognizes the right to life of unborn children and guarantees them protection under the law. It will not be able to respond to reports or objections from the public, a spokeswoman said, as it does not yet have automated tools to respond to such communications.

Facebook has changed its advertising policy ahead of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

However, this action did not extend to blocking ads simply because they had been placed by foreign organisations.

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The ban means that individuals and organisations outside of Ireland can not launch ad campaigns aimed at voters. There are now certain circumstances which allow for an abortion, such as if the mother's life is threatened.

Minister of State for Trade, Business and the EU Digital Single Market Pat Breen said that most organisations in Ireland "are sensible" when asked about the lack of prevention of funding from overseas to organisations located in Ireland.

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

"Facebook are always late to the party", said Gavin Sheridan, an Irish social media expert who has been following the digital side of the referendum campaign. The problem came from interference in elections in the United States and in other areas as well.

Facebook also said it is testing a process that will help it ensure advertisers are resident in the country where an election is taking place. "It's a start, it's a good start".

"We understand the sensitivity of this campaign and will be working hard to ensure neutrality at all stages".

Meanwhile, Google has announced a €150m investment in the expansion of its data centre operations in south Co Dublin.

Other reports by GizPress

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