In Ireland, Facebook bans all foreign ads related to referendum

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With a contentious May 25 referendum on Ireland's abortion ban approaching, Facebook said Tuesday that it would block political advertising from groups based outside the country.

The vote on whether or not to terminate Ireland's inherent ban on abortion has attracted considerations that foreign bands will make an effort to influence the debate during societal networking. Irish electoral law bans political donations from non-Irish citizens or residents, but online advertising was not envisioned when the law was written, and transparency activists and online monitors have reported a swelling number of online ads, many of unknown origin.

Facebook explained that the move was created to protect the integrity of elections and referendums from "undue influence". And while Ireland forbids foreign spending in campaigns, its election law is silent on digital activity.

Because automated election integrity tools are still in development, Facebook said it would rely on reports from established campaign groups from both sides of the referendum to identify foreign-based advertisements.

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"What we are now doing for the referendum on the Eighth Amendment will allow us to operate as though these tools, which are not yet fully available, were in place with respect to foreign referendum-related advertising", the company statement added. The Times previously reported that a US-based anti-abortion group had paid to target Irish voters...

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

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. We will then assess and act on those reports.

"The poll shows a growing appetite among Irish people to ensure that abortion in Ireland is safe and regulated". It also indicated that it will implement the same rule for future elections in Ireland, disallowing any ads that do not come from registered entities in Ireland.

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