Google to ban all ads related to Irish abortion referendum

Kent Walker headshot

Under heightened scrutiny for its role in influencing recent political campaigns, Facebook announced it is banning foreign ads relating to Ireland's upcoming referendum on abortion.

Google has suspended all advertising connected to Ireland's abortion referendum.

This will not limit or omit any content found in Google searches and will focus on the ads.

The same link, which is made to look like a news article, . Facebook, Google, Twitter and their similars can expect more governments to take an interest in regulating their activities when it comes to political advertising.

The move follows an announcement by Facebook yesterday saying it had stopped accepting referendum related ads paid for by foreign entities.

The Together for Yes group, the umbrella group campaigning for a Yes vote in the referendum, confirmed that it maintained regular contact with Facebook and Google regarding online ads, sometimes complaining that anti-abortion ads breached the companies' standards.

On Friday, Kent Walker, a Google senior vice president, said in a post that in order to make political advertising more transparent, the company's introducing new policies for United States election ads across its platforms.

The technology giant's ban is to be enforced from Thursday, covering its Google and YouTube sites, and will stay in place until after the vote.

How Google and Facebook are handling ads around Ireland's abortion referendum is raising new questions about the companies' preparedness for the U.S. midterm elections in November.

Voters are being asked whether they want to retain the constitutional ban or repeal it and make parliament responsible for creating abortion laws.

"It's a step in the right direction, but it's an very bad pity we couldn't have done this six months ago".

They also said that the action from Google was taken because one side of the referendum was afraid it is "losing" the campaign, and said that "massive pressure" had been exerted on the online companies from the government, media and Yes side to take action against adverts on the campaign. "That platform is now being undermined in order to prevent the public from hearing the message of one side", the pro-life groups said at a press conference.

There are very real concerns about outside political influence on Irish voters, but the clearest evidence points to underhanded dealings on the pro-abortion side.

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.

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