Facebook announced it will not accept any ads on its platform related to the upcoming abortion referendum if the advertiser is from 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.
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.
Ireland’s Eighth Amendment “acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”
If Irish citizens vote “yes” on the repeal of the Irish Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, the effective ban on abortion would be lifted. There are currently certain circumstances which allow for an abortion, such as if the mother’s life is threatened.
“We understand the sensitivity of this campaign and will be working hard to ensure neutrality at all stages,” Facebook stated.
The heated pro-life versus pro-choice debate has led to reports of foreign influencers attempting to sway the Irish people through online campaigns.
“Concerns have been raised about organizations and individuals based outside of Ireland trying to influence the outcome of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland by buying ads on Facebook,” the company said in a statement. “This is an issue we have been thinking about for some time.”
Facebook stated the ban will apply equally to both sides of the debate and that it has “built relationships with political parties, groups representing both sides of the campaign.”
The decision to ban foreign ads comes after Facebook’s April 25 launch of a “view ads” feature for users in Ireland, which “enables Irish Facebook users to see all of the ads any advertiser is running on Facebook in Ireland at the same time.”
Recent polling suggests the referendum will be close, but there has been a consistent lead in favor of “yes.”
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