Facebook to ban all foreign ads relating to abortion referendum

Facebook bans Eighth Amendment-related ads from advertisers based outside Ireland

The firm reportedly worked for multiple political campaigns and gathered data from social media accounts to develop a mechanism that would predict and influence the behaviour of voters.

Over 3,200 women travelled from Ireland in 2016 to access abortion care overseas and a further estimated 1,500 took abortion pills at home without medical supervision or support.

They have created "additional election integrity tools" and "ads transparency tools" which have been fast-tracked into operation in Ireland.

"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.

In a post, Facebook says: "This is an issue we have been thinking about for some time".

The company will soon start requiring political advertisers to be residents in the country where the election is taking place. Voters will be asked whether they want to repeal article 40.3.3 - known as the eighth amendment - which enshrined a ban on abortion in the Irish constitution in 1983.

Facebook has moved to block foreign advertisements relating to the upcoming Irish referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

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

"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", Facebook said. Machine learning will also be used in this effort.

"Our goal is simple: to help ensure a free, fair and transparent vote on this important issue".

On April 25, the company launched a trial of a "view ads" tool, which allows users to view all of the ads any advertiser is running on Facebook in Ireland at the same time.

Facebook has changed its advertising policy ahead of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

Facebook has tried to improve its transparency after revelations that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica harvested users' data to micro-target political ads to select groups during the 2016 USA presidential race - meaning that only those most susceptible to the message would see the advertisements.

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