Facebook has decided to block any foreign ads related to the upcoming abortion referendum to preserve ‘integrity’ of the vote
On the 25th of May 2018, the Irish abortion referendum will take place. Voters will be asked whether or not to approve the Thirty-Sixth Amendment to the Constitution Bill. According to TheJournal.ie, this amendment will allow repealing (removing) Article 40.3.3 (known as the Eighth Amendment) and replacing it with this line: ‘Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies.’
In December, the Oireachtas (the Irish legislative body) committee on the Eighth Amendment supported the repeal and made a recommendation that abortion without restriction be legal up to the twelfth week of pregnancy. Groups supporting the ‘Repeal The Eighth’ movement, such as the London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign, have sought to highlight how thousands of Irish women a year are forced to leave the country, simply in order to get access to safe abortion services.
Of course, such a historic vote means that tensions and emotions are running high, and campaigns by both sides are dominating the internet and the airwaves. Facebook, whose value plunged by $36bn in the days after the Cambridge Analytica scandal was announced, has now taken the step to block any foreign spending on adverts regarding the referendum in order to protect the ‘integrity’ of the vote. As part of this, Ireland has also become the first country outside of the US to receive a collection of ad-tracking tools, (which were promised in early-April.)
In a statement, Facebook said, ‘This is an issue we have been thinking about for some time. 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.’
They continued: ‘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.’