Facebook bans foreign ads in Ireland abortion referendum

The Irish abortion referendum

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He said the campaign had made it clear that Irish politicians now needed to pass legislation to restrict the activities of internet companies' advertising products "in the same way that steps were taken in the past to regulate political advertising on traditional forms of print and broadcast media".

He said a gap in legislation on how to govern advertising - and allow an equal playing field for elections - should have been dealt with long ago. Only abortion-related ads from groups in Ireland will be allowed ahead of the vote.

Facebook and Google have strong biases against the pro-life argument.

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Mr McIntyre said the decision restricts the ability of a "disproportionately well-funded side" to set the terms of the debate.

The Irish government began asking questions of pro-abortion groups in 2016 after a leaked document from American billionaire George Soros's Open Society Foundations revealed plans to push Ireland and other pro-life countries to legalize abortion on demand, the Catholic News Agency reported at the time.

All relevant ads will now be banned over the next 24 hours and will remain so for the duration of the campaign on Google and YouTube.

Offaly-based Councillor John Leahy has said it sets "a unsafe precedent for future campaigns where Google and Facebook again decide how much and what information the people have".

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Mr Leahy stressed the effectiveness of "the old fashioned ground war of meeting the people on a face to face basis".

Google's move has been welcomed by Together For Yes, the umbrella group of civil society organisations campaigning for a "Yes" vote.

Irish voters will go to the polls on 25 May to decide whether to repeal the eighth amendment to the Irish constitution, which guarantees the "right to life of the unborn" and ensures abortion remains illegal. It said that it would not make an exception for the referendum.

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