Google Follows Facebook In Banning Ads Before Referendum


Facebook FB.O will no longer accept advertisements from outside Ireland related to the country's May 25 abortion referendum, the USA firm said on Tuesday, in its latest move to boost the transparency of its political advertising.

Google went one step further and said it would not accept any ads related to the referendum, not just those from groups or individuals seeking to sway the vote.

Google is banning abortion-related advertising ahead of Ireland's referendum on the eighth amendment.

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.

Groups campaigning for a No vote in the upcoming Eighth Amendment referendum slated the decision, deeming the move as an attempt to "rig" the vote in favour of the Yes side.

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 from one side".

Given the sensitivity of the issue a blanket ban is likely the least controversial option for the company, as well as also the simplest to implement - whereas Facebook has said it has been liaising with local groups for some time, and has created a dedicated channel where ads that might be breaking its ban on foreign buyers can be reported by the groups, generating reports that Facebook will need to review and act on quickly.

They also said that the ban disproportionately affects the No side, accusing the media of being biased and aiding the Yes side.

Campaign Co-Director Ailbhe Smyth said of the ban: "We welcome confirmation today from Google that they are going to stop running political advertisements over the next 24 hours".

Maria Steen claims 50% of no posters have been taken down illegally.

The company have said that the move is part of its broader efforts around election integrity globally. In both cases, groups or individuals can pay to have their adverts appear in this way.

It will not change what shows in normal search results, which at the moment is largely made up of news articles from a range of organisations, rather than information from campaigns on either side.

"There are no regulations in this area of online advertising, and I would prefer if we had more nuanced and detailed legislation".