Facebook to block foreign ads in Irish abortion referendum

Demonstrators march for more liberal Irish abortion laws in Dublin on Sept 30, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

DUBLIN (REUTERS) - Facebook will no longer accept advertisements from outside Ireland related to the country's May 25 abortion referendum, the US firm said on Tuesday (May 8), in its latest move to boost the transparency of its political advertising.

The social media group, under scrutiny for its role in Britain's Brexit referendum and the 2016 US presidential election, made the move following criticism that foreign advertising could be a decisive in the campaign to overhaul one of the world's strictest abortion regimes.

"As part of our 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," said the company in a statement on its website.

The company said it would rely on reports from established campaign groups on both sides of the campaign to identify foreign-based ads, as its automated election integrity tools are still in development.

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.

The Irish referendum on whether or not to liberalise its abortion laws will give voters the first opportunity in 35 years to repeal a constitutional amendment that has long divided the once deeply Catholic nation.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.