FB bans non-Irish abortion poll ads

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Facebook has banned foreign spending on ads related to an upcoming Irish vote on its abortion law, saying it's concerned groups outside of the country may try to influence the outcome of the sensitive referendum.

Facebook will no longer accept advertisements from outside Ireland related to the country's May 25 abortion referendum, the U.S. firm said on Tuesday, in its latest move to boost the transparency of its political advertising.

"Most organisations here are sensible and we don't have any problems I think with a lot of them in this country".

The social media company has made the decision amid growing concern that individuals and organisations based outside of the country are trying to sway the result of the referendum and influence undecided voters through ad campaigns.

As for who is paying for those ads, said Sheridan, "the only people who know that for certain are Facebook themselves".

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.

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The company said the ban related to Ireland would be effective from May 8, and enforced partly through campaign groups identifying and reporting suspected foreign adverts.

The ban means that individuals and organisations outside of Ireland can not launch ad campaigns aimed at voters. We will then assess and act on those reports.

"It's as much as they can do at the moment, but we believe that the Data Commissioner will work closely with them in the future to ensure that Facebook remains independent and doesn't interfere with what's happening in the country", he added.

"We are an open platform for people to express ideas and views on both sides of a debate", Facebook said in a statement.

Facebook has previously committed to introduce such tools, but says they are not yet ready in time for the Eighth Amendment referendum.

The change comes into force today (Tuesday), and advocacy groups on both sides of the campaign were consulted on the proposal. Irish users saw a notice at the top of their News Feed which offered advice on how to spot false news, such as checking the URL of the site, investigating the source of the news and looking for further reports on the topic.