Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Google and Facebook ban ads linked to Ireland's abortion referendum

Listen to audio 06:40  Inside Europe Abortion vote polarizes Irish society Listen to audio 06:40 Inside Europe Abortion vote polarizes Irish society
Lisa Bryan | 11 May, 2018, 04:18

The move won't impact on content or search results that are returned by Google searches.

He said a number of No groups had earmarked significant spending on the platform ahead of the referendum on 25 May to reach voters, and that it was a legitimate means of doing so.

Facebook announced it would be banning all ads relating to the referendum that had come from foreign sources.

Now in Ireland, social media and internet companies are not banned from accepting ads from groups outside of the state, while campaign groups are not allowed to receive foreign funding.

It is understood that Google was made aware of concerns surrounding online advertising, with the ban on adverts related to the referendum to take effect by Thursday and to continue until the referendum on 25 May.

It is unclear if Google will unpause the ads after the vote.


On Wednesday morning, Google announced the ban on all referendum-related advertisements on its platform, including ads on YouTube and Google Adwords. Facebook has plenty of motive to try and prevent foreign actors from buying politically charged ads.

Given how close the vote now is both tech giants have been accused of acting too late to prevent foreign interests from using their platforms to exploit a loophole in Irish law to get around a ban on foreign donations to political campaigns by pouring money into unregulated digital advertising instead.

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.

Mr Lawless has been pushing for a law requiring all online advertisers to disclose the publishers and sponsors behind ads.

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.

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