Facebook bans foreign ads in Ireland's abortion vote

Facebook bans foreign ads in Ireland's abortion vote

Facebook bans foreign ads in Ireland's abortion vote

Facebook announced it will not accept any ads on its platform related to the upcoming abortion referendum if the advertiser is from outside of Ireland.

The announcement, which comes less than three weeks before Irish voters go to the polls, testifies to the depths of concerns that foreign advertising could skew the vote.

The social media giant said organisations outside of Ireland had been buying ads to influence the outcome of the vote.

It is the latest move by Facebook to boost the transparency of its political advertising with the social media giant under scrutiny for its role in Britain's Brexit referendum and the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The May 25, referendum would reveal whether the Irish people want to remove the eighth amendment. Facebook's advertising system has become a favorite of political groups because it is largely automated and makes it easy to target narrow segments of voters.

"Our view ads feature - which enables Irish Facebook users to see all of the ads any advertiser is running on Facebook in Ireland at the same time - has been fast tracked and is operational today", the company said. The business has shifted its news-feed algorithm to deemphasize political news, and has appreciated thousands of moderators internationally to spot rumors and extremist articles.

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Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company is trying to salvage its reputation for facilitating foreign intervention in elections.

Ireland faces a historical referendum on May 25, posing the question of whether to liberalize one of the hardest regimes in Europe, second only to Poland.

The move is part of a broader effort to help protect the integrity of voting, the company said. It added: "We will then assess and act on those reports".

As part of the process, Ireland has also became the first country outside the U.S. to receive a set of advertiser-transparency tools Facebook promised in early in April. It demonstrates that the Yes campaign's message of care and compassion for women in Ireland is hitting home with people across the country.

Liz Carolan of the Transparent Referendum Initiative, a group set up to monitor online content during the campaign, said that Facebook's decision to ban foreign-sourced advertising was a step in the right direction, but that more needed to be done.

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