Facebook to ban foreign election ads

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The social media giant said yesterday that it would be putting a block on all advertisements relating to the referendum that come from outside of Ireland.

Facebook is banning foreign groups from buying advertisements related to Ireland's abortion referendum, the company announced Tuesday.

In a statement today, Facebook admitted it was an issue they had been "thinking about for some time".

"Facebook will no longer be accepting ads related to the forthcoming referendum if they are from advertisers based outside of Ireland, " the network said in a statement. It also indicated that it will implement the same rule for future elections in Ireland, disallowing any ads that do not come from registered entities in Ireland.

However, this action did not extend to blocking ads simply because they had been placed by foreign organisations.

Facebook also brought forward the introduction of its "view ads" tool that allows users to see all the ads a page is running on Facebook at a particular time.

The move is a long time coming for some as Facebook has been criticised for its impact on the USA presidential election in 2016, and there have been questions raised about it influence over the UK's Brexit vote.

The ban means that individuals and organisations outside of Ireland can not launch ad campaigns aimed at voters.

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". We will then assess and act on those reports.

Facebook says it has learned the lessons of Russian meddling in the 2016 United States election, and is working on changes to make election campaigns more transparent.

The May 25, referendum would reveal whether the Irish people want to remove the eighth amendment. Our goal is simple: to help ensure a free, fair and transparent vote on this important issue'.

We are deploying Election Integrity Artificial Intelligence for the referendum, similar to what was established in advance of recent elections in France, Germany and Italy. However, the advocacy groups on both sides of the issue have a direct line to Facebook for this very objective. Irish users saw a notice at the top of their News Feed which offered advice on how to spot false news, such as checking the URL of the site, investigating the source of the news and looking for further reports on the topic.

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