Facebook bans Eighth Amendment-related ads from advertisers based outside Ireland

Although the Offenses Against the Person Act made abortion illegal in 1861, the Irish held a referendum to amend the Constitution of Ireland and create the Eighth Amendment, making the ban unalterable unless through another referendum, which will be held May 25.

"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".

"This change will apply to ads we determine to be coming from foreign entities which are attempting to influence the outcome of the vote on May 25", the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

The company will rely on reports from established campaign groups relating to foreign-based ads.

Facebook has said it will block ads relating to Ireland's forthcoming referendum on abortion that do not originate from advertisers inside the country.

"As Christians, we see the scriptures speaking consistently of the importance and value of human life, including that of the unborn", said the PCI in a letter to its members. 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 today with respect to foreign referendum-related advertising.

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Facebook is using Ireland's abortion referendum to test policies meant to prevent foreign meddling in elections. "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 problem came from interference in elections in the USA and in other areas as well.

"Most organisations here are sensible and we don't have any problems I think with a lot of them in this country".

Irish Christians-including the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) as well as the Catholic Church-have sought to counter the campaign by reminding their members of the inherent dignity of the human person from conception to natural death. But the legislation does not cover money spent directly on digital advertising, a loophole that observers say has been exploited by groups overseas wishing to influence the vote.

Facebook said that its ban on ads not from the Republic would be effective from 8 May. The advertisements will then be investigated by the social-media platform.

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.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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