Both Sides React Differently To Google's Referendum Ad Ban

Adjust Comment Print

Both sides of the abortion debate have offered different responses to Google's decision to suspend advertisements related to the Eighth Amendment referendum.

Google is to ban all adverts related to Ireland's abortion referendum.

"Following our update around election integrity efforts globally, we have chose to pause all ads related to the Irish referendum on the eighth amendment", a Google spokesperson told us. Advertising with Google is distributed on millions of websites, including YouTube.

Facebook's move is likely to be directly related to this fear: and a fear that if the referendum were defeated, the company would face questions about its role in influencing votes, as it has in the United States and UK.

Save the 8th spokesperson John McGuirk said that while Facebook's decision to ban foreign advertisers was welcome, the ban on all advertising through Google affected the No side in particular.

Irish politician James Lawless, technology spokesman for the opposition Fianna Fail party, welcomed the moves by Google and Facebook, but said "they are rushed and they are coming at the 11th hour".

'Fake news has already had a corrosive impact on the referendum debate on social media, ' he said, in reference to the impact of misinformation on the Brexit vote and the 2016 USA presidential election.

There have been concerns raised around the world about the influence social media and the internet have on voters and the growth of election meddling.

The search giant has come under fire for showing pro-life adverts masquerading as news articles when someone searches for information about Ireland's abortion law, the focus of a historical referendum that will take later this month.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy concurred that the government can not leave protection of the democratic process to the "good intentions of worldwide companies".

It said it had too been thinking about the issue "for some time".

In National Review, Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote that although Google's decision may seem neutral, it will likely do more damage to the pro-life campaign.