Facebook is blocking ads from outside of Ireland as the country approaches its May 25 abortion referendum on whether to save its Eighth Amendment which guarantees equal protection for both mothers and their babies.
The social media giant announced it would be blocking all ads related to the referendum that come from outside Ireland due to complaints that foreign advertising was having an effect on the referendum campaign.
Facebook said, reports Independent.ie.:
As part of our efforts to help protect the integrity of elections and referendums from undue influence, we will begin rejecting ads related to the referendum if they are being run by advertisers based outside of Ireland. This change will apply to ads we determine to be coming from a foreign entity which are attempting to influence the outcome of the vote on May 25. We do not intend to block campaigns and advocacy organisations in Ireland from using service providers outside of Ireland.
Ireland’s Electoral Act of 1997 prohibits the use of overseas funding for political campaigns in the country but does not address digital ads.
The referendum has drawn attention from around the world. Abortion giant Planned Parenthood has referred to Ireland as the “jewel in the crown of the pro-life movement,” and DCLeaks revealed in 2016 that left-wing billionaire George Soros used his Open Society Foundation to overturn the Eighth Amendment.
According to the leaked documents, Soros’s foundation granted Amnesty International Ireland €137,000, the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) – an affiliate of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) – €132,000, and the Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) at least €25,000 “to work collectively on a campaign to repeal Ireland’s constitutional amendment granted equal rights to an implanted embryo as the pregnant woman (referred to as ‘fetal personhood’).”
“In this referendum, Amnesty and the IFPA have received over €400,000 in foreign donations,” said the Save the 8th campaign in a statement. “When asked to return an illegal foreign donation, Amnesty refused, and yet Minister Harris is content to campaign alongside an organisation that has broken the law.”
These pro-abortion groups are portraying the Eighth Amendment as prohibiting Irish women from obtaining “reproductive health care,” i.e., abortion, within their own country, and suffering health consequences as a result. However, that narrative has been dismissed by many physicians in Ireland who say practicing medicine in a pro-life country does not restrict them from treating women and saving their lives.
Irish obstetrician Dr. Trevor Hayes, for example, said he is not prohibited by the 8thAmendment “in providing the best care to women.”
“Ireland’s a very safe place to have a baby,” he continued. “The statistics show that we are safer from women dying or from women getting very ill in Ireland than the U.K. or the U.S.”
In February, in fact, the Journal.ie and the Irish Times – two of Ireland’s largest media organizations – were forced to pull a fabricated story about a poll that claimed 75 percent of Irish doctors support repealing the Eighth Amendment and allowing abortions unrestricted up to 12 weeks’ gestation.
However, pro-abortion rights media in the U.S. such as the Washington Post express concern only about pro-life ads coming from the United States:
Data compiled by the Transparent Referendum Initiative, which depends on crowdsourcing from users, reveals that numerous U.S.-based groups have penetrated the online debate in Ireland.
Advertisements have appeared from Live Action, a group led by activist Lila Rose best known for hidden-camera videos of Planned Parenthood clinics; Radiance Foundation, a Virginia-based group that has drawn criticism for using the mantra of the Black Lives Matter movement to shame women for ending their pregnancies; and Expectant Mother Care/E.M.C. FrontLine Pregnancy Centers, which conducts antiabortion activity in New York City.
On Wednesday Google announced it would block all ads related to the referendum, regardless of their origin, in order to promote “election integrity.”
“Following our update around election integrity efforts globally, we have decided to pause all ads related to the Irish referendum on the Eighth Amendment,” a Google spokesperson said.
Save the 8th spokesperson Niamh Uí Bhriain, however, said “hard questions” should be asked about whether the “censorship” is truly about “election integrity”:
I think we would all agree that it’s very significant that “Yes” campaigners rushed out today to welcome this censorship of the “No” message. Because the “Yes” side in this referendum doesn’t need Google to campaign – they already have the Journal.ie, TV3.ie, RTE.ie, the Irish Times.ie, the DailyEdge.ie, and the list simply goes on and on.
“I would ask the media here now, to ask hard questions of Google … where is the evidence that our electoral integrity has been compromised?” Uí Bhriain continued. “Was it because the polls are tightening? Was it because it looks like this referendum – which is absolutely supported by the media establishment and political establishment – is going to be rejected by the people?”