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Facebook said that for the objective of the referendum it would operate as though these tools were in place in Ireland.

With a contentious May 25 referendum on Ireland's abortion ban approaching, Facebook said it would block political advertising from groups based outside the country.

Abortion has always been a divisive issue in Ireland.

The heated pro-life versus pro-choice debate has led to reports of foreign influencers attempting to sway the Irish people through online campaigns.

It appears Facebook is trying to appear proactive where regulations may be slow to catch up - in Ireland, overseas political donations are banned, but foreign social media ads aren't.

"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", said Facebook in a statement on its website. The company also claimed it'd utilize synthetic intelligence technologies to spot maybe debatable materials.

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The announcement, which comes less than three weeks before Irish voters go to the polls, testifies to the depths of concerns that foreign advertising could skew the vote.

The company will soon start requiring political advertisers to be residents in the country where the election is taking place.

Facebook is to ban ads relating to the Irish abortion referendum if they originate from outside the country. These ads pushed divisive issues like gun rights, immigration fears, and racial strife, according to Facebook, and were often imbalanced with regard to the candidates: mostly pro-Donald Trump, anti-Hillary Clinton. About one in five voters are undecided. US -based anti-abortion groups are among those who have bought online ads in Ireland during the campaign.

"It's not necessarily underhanded to try and identify targets for advertising, but if you are not being transparent about who you are representing, then it's a problem", he said.

Facebook's new Ad View tool, which allows people to see all the ads that a Facebook page is running - and not merely those targeted at them - is an improvement, she said. "Yet we have even less information on these advertisements than we do on Facebook ads". "I think Google and Facebook and all the other social media companies out there will be responsible in relation to this and are facing the consequences that can happen as a result of this", he added.


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