Published: Fri, May 11, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Google to ban ads related to referendum

Google to ban ads related to referendum

Google is banning abortion-related advertising ahead of Ireland's referendum on the eighth amendment.

The National Review reports the decisions by Facebook and Google "disproportionately [harm] pro-life advocates who have relied more heavily than their opponents on digital advertising".

"Following our update around election integrity efforts globally, we have made a decision to pause all ads related to the Irish referendum on the eighth amendment", a Google spokesperson told us. The company will put a moratorium on all referendum-related advertising on its Google search pages as well as on YouTube in an effort to ensure advertising on its site doesn't tip the vote on the controversial topic.

This latest move will bring to €1bn the amount of money invested by Google in Ireland since 2003.

In a statement responding to the Google ban, Together for Yes campaign co-director Ailbhe Smyth said: "This creates a level playing field between all sides, specifically in relation to YouTube and Google searches, who can now seek to convince the Irish electorate by the strength of their argument and power of personal testimony, not by the depth of their pockets". However, social networks can advertise, financed from overseas. Facebook has plenty of motive to try and prevent foreign actors from buying politically charged ads.

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The company announced last week it would be rolling out a verification process for election adverts in the United States and pledged to look at a wider range of elections globally.

Meanwhile, the leader of Renua Ireland, the only political party to campaign for the retention of the Eighth Amendment, has noted that the decisions by Facebook and Google have occurred in "the dying weeks of the campaign". Depending on what you search online, advertisers can select terms that make their ads appear when you search that term.

However this USA -first focus leaves other regions vulnerable to election fiddlers - hence Google deciding to suspend ad buys around the Irish vote, albeit tardily.

The Irish government began asking questions of pro-abortion groups in 2016 after a leaked document from American billionaire George Soros's Open Society Foundations revealed plans to push Ireland and other pro-life countries to legalize abortion on demand, the Catholic News Agency reported at the time.

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