Facebook has announced that it has begun to block ads from outside Ireland related to the referendum on abortion scheduled for May 25. In a statement, the social network explained that groups or individuals who want to place ads about the referendum must prove that they reside in the country, fearing that there may be « undue influence ».
« Today, 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,” Facebook said in a a statement.
The social network is under scrutiny since the scandal of the misuse of the data of more than 50 million Americans by the British company Cambridge Analytica with the aim of influencing the US elections came to light.
According to the company, « the spirit of this approach » is also « consistent with the Irish electoral law, » which prohibits groups involved in voting campaigns from accepting donations from abroad. The social network has also added that its purpose is to continue offering an open platform for « people to express ideas and points of view from both sides of the debate » on abortion.
As explained in the statement, Facebook will rely on reports from the various official campaign groups to identify ads from abroad.
Ireland has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe: only voluntary termination of pregnancy is allowed in case the mother’s life is at risk. On May 25, voters will decide if they wish to repeal the eighth amendment of the Constitution, which was passed in 1983 and that enshrines the right to life of both the mother and the unborn.