Facebook to ban all foreign ads relating to abortion referendum

Jack Feacon and Megan Apple at the launch of Youth for Yes

Facebook to ban all foreign ads relating to abortion referendum

Facebook says starting Tuesday it will "begin rejecting ads related to the referendum if they are being run by advertisers based outside of Ireland".

Facebook has moved to block foreign advertisements relating to the upcoming Irish referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

The company added that Irish campaigners will be exempted from the ban.

We have also built relationships with political parties, groups representing both sides of the campaign and with the Transparent Referendum Initiative, who we are asking to notify us if they have concerns about ad campaigns.

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.

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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 ban means that individuals and organisations outside of Ireland can not launch ad campaigns aimed at voters.

"This is an issue we have been thinking about for some time", Facebook said in a statement.

"Our goal is simple: to help ensure a free, fair and transparent vote on this important issue".

Ads uploaded to Facebook by organisations based in the country could still be funded by foreign sources, however.

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On April 25, the company launched a trial of a "view ads" tool, which allows users to view all of the ads any advertiser is running on Facebook in Ireland at the same time.

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.

Independent efforts to track Facebook ads found that most of the promoted material from outside of Ireland urges voters to retain the constitution's eighth amendment, which gives mother and the unborn an equal right to life.

The company said the ban related to Ireland would be effective from May 8, and enforced partly through campaign groups identifying and reporting suspected foreign adverts. As a member of the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network, The Journal.ie will review news stories, check their facts and rate their accuracy.

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