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Google stops ads in Ireland's abortion referendum
11 May 2018, 04:17 | Colleen Roy
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.
We've asked Google why it's only taken the decision to suspend referendum ad buys now, and why it did not act months earlier - given the Irish government announced its intention to hold a 2018 referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment in mid 2017 - and will update this post with any response.
Facebook said it is still developing automated election integrity tools, so the company would rely on campaign groups to identify the foreign ads.
On Tuesday Facebook had announced that it would root out and prevent any foreign ads concerning the May 25 vote from running in Ireland.
The move follows a similar decision made by Facebook to counter foreign influence on the vote.
"That platform is now being undermined in order to prevent the public from hearing the message from one side", said pro-life forces in a joint statement from Save The 8th, Pro-Life Campaign and The Iona Institute.
The referendum is due to take place on May 25. Yesterday, the transparency campaigner Gavin Sheridan tweeted that it was now his view that the No side would win the campaign because its online spending was dwarfing that of the Yes campaign.
Independent News & Media, Ireland's largest digital media platform, says that it will allow digital ads from both campaigns provided that they are "factual" and are "not offensive".
Meanwhile, abortion supporters like Ailbhe Smyth, co-director of the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment, applauded the tech giants' decision, saying it "creates a level playing field between all sides, specifically in relation to YouTube and Google searches".
Ireland bars political donations from overseas, but the law does not apply to social media advertising.
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