Google suspends Irish abortion referendum ads

Web giants profit from abortion claims

Google suspends Irish abortion referendum ads

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.

"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", said a company statement.

Both sides of the abortion debate have given different reactions to Google's decision to ban ads on the referendum.

All relevant ads will now be banned over the next 24 hours and will remain so for the duration of the campaign on Google and YouTube.

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This comes one day after Facebook has announced that they will not allow referendum ads from foreign sources on the site.

Facebook has also announced a raft of similar transparency steps related to political ads in recent years - responding to political pressure and scrutiny following revelations about the extent of Kremlin-backed online disinformation campaigns that had targeted the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Opinion polls continue to show a strong lead for the Yes side, though that lead has slipped since the start of the campaign.

He said the campaign had made it clear that Irish politicians now needed to pass legislation to restrict the activities of internet companies' advertising products "in the same way that steps were taken in the past to regulate political advertising on traditional forms of print and broadcast media".

Google declined to supply any information about cancelled ads or the spending on ads in recent weeks.

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Pro-choice groups say it creates a level playing field, but pro-life groups say it's an attempt to "rig the referendum".

Google's move has been welcomed by Together For Yes, the umbrella group of civil society organisations campaigning for a "Yes" vote.

At a joint press conference on Wednesday, No campaigners said that the move was taken out of fear the No side might win.

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It added: "Online was the only platform available to the No campaign to speak to voters directly. That platform is now being undermined, in order to prevent the public from hearing the message of one side", the statement said.

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