Google bans abortion referendum ads in Ireland

Lucy Bush
May 11, 2018

On the 25th of May 2018, the Irish abortion referendum will take place.

John McGuirk speaking to the media about Google's decision to remove adverts to do with the 8th Referendum on their platform.

The same link, which is made to look like a news article, .

Its decision follows Facebook's move to ban all referendum ads from outside Ireland.

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On Tuesday Facebook had announced that it would root out and prevent any foreign ads concerning the May 25 vote from running in Ireland.

Google explicitly linked the new changes to those efforts, though it did not make clear whether the change was the result of any particular ad. Although Irish law bans foreign donations to political campaigns, there had been concerns that overseas campaigners were still able to spend potentially unlimited sums buying adverts targeting Irish voters.

Both companies claimed they are concerned about foreign groups influencing the election through ads on their platforms. The company, along with other social networks, has been heavily criticized for a failure to stop election-related ads from Russian Federation from appearing on users' feeds in the lead-up to the 2016 USA elections.

The Transparent Referendum Initiative, an independent watchdog group, reports most of the online ad purchases came from pro-life groups, including some in the United States, England and Canada.

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On Wednesday morning, Google announced the ban on all referendum-related advertisements on its platform, including ads on YouTube and Google Adwords.

Google is making this decision amidst concern that ads from overseas could have an impact on the democratic process here in Ireland.

"We believe this referendum will be won on facts, and now when undecided voters are searching online, they'll see the most relevant answers to their questions - not the ones that are paid to be put in front of them".

Abortion is illegal in Ireland under the amendment unless there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother.

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