Published: Thu, May 10, 2018
Industry | By Kenny Hampton

Facebook Bans Non-Irish Abortion Poll Ads

Facebook Bans Non-Irish Abortion Poll Ads

Facebook will no longer be accepting ads related to the forthcoming referendum if they are from advertisers based outside of Ireland.

Facebook said it is still developing automated election integrity tools, so the company would rely on campaign groups to identify the foreign ads.

"The poll shows a growing appetite among Irish people to ensure that abortion in Ireland is safe and regulated".

The vote has drawn worldwide attention and last month Helen Dixon, the Irish data protection commissioner, said it was possible that foreign actors could try to tilt the outcome. The advertisements are then going to be investigated by the social networking platform.

Facebook says starting Tuesday it will "begin rejecting ads related to the referendum if they are being run by advertisers based outside of Ireland". The company also claimed it'd utilize synthetic intelligence technologies to spot maybe debatable materials. The Times previously reported that a US-based anti-abortion group had paid to target Irish voters... 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. It demonstrates that the Yes campaign's message of care and compassion for women in Ireland is hitting home with people across the country.

Last week, Gavin Sheridan, a former employee for Storyful, was able to trace one webpage, ostensibly an information source for undecided voters but with no verifiable identification or contact details, to conservative Roman Catholic groups in the United States.

The Irish Transparent Referendum Initiative has identified several ads paid for by United Kingdom and US-based anti-abortion groups targeting users in Ireland ahead of the referendum.

Transparency campaigners and advocates have been voicing concerns over a number of hard to trace advertisements related to the referendum that have been appearing on Facebook and other platforms in recent weeks. This enables Irish Facebook users to see all of the ads any advertiser is running on Facebook in Ireland at the same time.

But it allows users to see only current ads, so it is impossible to gauge the totality of an organization's online activity.

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