Facebook said on Tuesday it would no longer accept foreign advertisements related to Ireland’s referendum on abortion laws later this month. The social media website said the decision was part of its efforts to “protect the integrity of elections and referendums from undue influence”.
Ireland will vote on May 25 to decide whether to revoke the country’s almost total ban on abortion. Currently, Irish law allows abortion only when a woman’s life is at risk, and does not make exception even for pregnancies arising out of rape or incest.
Facebook said there were concerns that organisations and individuals based outside Ireland were trying to influence the outcome of the referendum by buying ads on its platform.
“We understand the sensitivity of this campaign and will be working hard to ensure neutrality at all stages,” the website said. “Our goal is simple: to help ensure a free, fair and transparent vote on this important issue.”
Facebook has been mired in controversy for its role in the United Kingdom’s referendum over being part of the European Union and the 2016 presidential election in the United States.
On April 25, the company launched a trial of the “view ads” feature to allow users to view all of the advertisements a particular advertiser is running on Facebook in Ireland at the same time.