Facebook To Reject Foreign Ads On Eighth Amendment

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

The Social Media giant today confirmed they want to help protect the integrity of elections and referendums.

Concerns had been raised about international organisations trying to influence the outcome of the upcoming abortion referendum by buying ads on Facebook.

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In a statement, it said that as part of its: “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.”

The move is a long time coming for some as Facebook has been criticised for its impact on the US presidential election in 2016, and there have been questions raised about it influence over the UK’s Brexit vote.

The Green Party has welcomed the move and is now calling on Google to introduce similar restrictions on its YouTube platform.

Together For Yes also welcomed the news. Its campaign Co-Director Ailbhe Smyth said: “We view this as a clear recognition by Facebook that external forces with vast resources can have disproportionate yet impactful influence in political campaigns. Today’s announcement means the integrity of Ireland’s democratic process will be protected to some extent, and this is therefore a significant step.

“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.

“Together For Yes previously voiced our strong concerns about Trump and Brexit-style social media tactics being used in the referendum, and urged people to be vigilant of biased information masquerading as neutral sources.

“This is a once-in-a-generation conversation that we are having about a fundamental change to our Constitution. The Irish people should be allowed to make that decision based on the strength of the arguments, not the strength of one’s war chest.”

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