On Tuesday the 8th of May 2018, Facebook which has its European headquarters in Dublin announced it would no longer be accepting ads related to the referendum from advertisers based outside of Ireland. “This change will apply to ads we determine to be coming from foreign entities which are attempting to influence the outcome of the vote,” it said.
It was clear at this stage that an enormous lack of regulatory oversight had now resulted in a commercial enterprise determining the ads that would or would not be displayed in an Irish referendum. I’m not sure Irish people ever voted for Mark Zuckerberg to make these types of decisions.
The following day, after some pressure, Google changed tack instead of accepting all ads, it banned them, from both sides, on its platforms for the remainder of the campaign. It is unprecedented in any country for Google to act in this way. For its part, Twitter has not accepted any ads relating to the referendum from the outset.
When did we decide that Google or Facebook could arbitrarily act like this? We didn’t, of course. And now that Google ads are banned, attention is likely to focus again on Facebook ads being effectively the only place Irish organisations or groups can reach voters online.
A lacuna in the law has led to a rather embarrassing situation: the Irish political system has effectively outsourced the regulation of online political ads to private US tech companies. The companies were arguably left in an invidious position: step in and change things, or do nothing. Either can arguably have an affect on the campaigns.
Ireland has never debated the merits or otherwise of online campaigns; nor have we debated how we might regulate them so that elections or referendums are free and fair. It is about time we did.
We cannot allow private companies to decide what we know or don’t know about our own electoral processes and how they should be run. We cannot allow commercial entities to make arbitrary and, indeed, voluntary decisions without a legal framework existing that has been formulated using the rather old-fashioned system of implementing laws via parliament. (Gavin Sheridan, 13th of May 2018).
The truth is out, The Abortion referendum was indeed interfered with, I’m calling on our government and the citizens of Ireland to investigate this by challenging Mark Zuckerberg in the Supreme Court whether it be in Ireland or America. We also need to take action against the other companies who are are responsible for changing the outcome of this Abortion Referendum Result in 2018. I believe we should have another Abortion Referendum Election due to the unfairness of tech companies interfering with the right to life of the Unborn Irish babies. (Sarah Louise Mulligan, 1st of July 2019).
Please find attached links to read further articles about, The Abortion Referendum Interference.