Facebook bans all referendum ads paid for by foreign sources

It also comes after revelations that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica harvested users' data to micro-target political ads to select groups during the 2016 US presidential race. The company will rely partly on reports from campaign groups that identify such ads.

They said, 'Our company approach is to build tools to increase transparency around political advertising so that people know who is paying for the ads they are seeing and to ensure any organisation running a political ad is located in that country'.

Irish law prohibits foreign funding for political campaigns, although this does not apply to social media advertising.

Facebook is using Ireland's abortion referendum to test policies meant to prevent foreign meddling in elections. The advertisements are then going to be investigated by the social networking platform.

The company said it was deploying "election integrity artificial intelligence" for the referendum, similar to that before recent elections in France, Germany and Italy.

Most nations, including the usa, prohibit foreign groups from advertising in elections that are domestic, however regulating the spending is more hard with more political activity moving online. This enables Irish Facebook users to see all of the ads any advertiser is running on Facebook in Ireland at the same time.


The results were welcomed by Together For Yes who say poll shows consistent support for a Yes vote on the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Facebook has also indicated it will implement the same rule for future elections in Ireland, disallowing any ads that do not come from registered entities here.

It said that as part of these efforts, it is building tools that would require potential advertisers to verify that they are resident in the country where the election is taking place.

Feeney said that proper laws and regulations were needed in the area of social media advertising and publishing. It demonstrates that the Yes campaign's message of care and compassion for women in Ireland is hitting home with people across the country. "It's not just about Facebook".

Last week, Gavin Sheridan, a former employee for Storyful, was able to trace one webpage, ostensibly an information source for undecided voters but with no verifiable identification or contact details, to conservative Roman Catholic groups in the United States.

The May 25 referendum will decide whether abortion should be legalized in Ireland.

  • Sylvester Abbott