Google to ban ads related to referendum on Eighth Amendment
Google has revealed it is banning all ads related to the referendum on the Eighth Amendment from its platforms ahead of the vote on 25 May.
Yesterday, Facebook announced it was to begin rejecting ads from foreign groups seeking to influence the referendum.
However, Google has gone a step further than Facebook by not only rejecting ads from organisations and individuals from outside the State, but all relevant ads during the final weeks of the campaign.
"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.
The move will take effect over the next 24 hours and last for the duration of the campaign across Google and YouTube.
It will not impact on content or search results that are returned by Google searches.
The move fol lows growing concern around the impact that ads, particularly those paid for by foreign actors, are having on the democratic process here and in other countries where elections and referendums are taking place.
Google to ban all ads related to the referendum on the Eighth Amendment - @willgoodbody reports pic.twitter.com/oZ3BuwTcfCâ" RTÃ News (@rtenews) May 9, 2018
Like most internet and social media companies, Google has been forced to think about these issues as part of its broader efforts around election integrity globally.
Last week the company, which employs almost 7,000 people in Ireland, said it would roll out a verification process for election ads in the US and that it is also looking at political issue ads and a wider range of elections globally.
The electoral laws here prohibit campaign groups from receiving funding from individuals and organisations outside the state.
However they do not prevent social medi a and internet companies from carrying ads from such people or groups.
Yesterday, Facebook announced it was putting in place a workaround system to ban ads related to the referendum from the social network for the remainder of the campaign, pending the completion of a new system that will have the same effect.
The Facebook move only covers ads posted and paid for by foreign individuals and organisations, not those placed by domestic groups and campaigners.
Save the Eighth claims the referendum is 'rigged'
Those calling for a No vote in the Referendum on the Eighth Amendment have said Google's decision today is not over "concerns about the integrity of elections" but concerns that the No side might win.
Campaigners say they are for happy for Google to follow Facebook and ban foreign advertising.
Niamh UÃ Bhriain of Save the Eighth has called on the media to ask Google where the evidence exists that electoral integrit y has been compromised.
She claimed that the Referendum is rigged and accused the Yes side of shutting down the campaign
John McGuirk said Google is saying legitimate campaign organisations will no longer be able to advertise on its platform, but he said if An Post did the same regarding the issuing of leaflets, the media "would be up in arms".
David Quinn of the Iona Institute said even if Google was acting in good faith, he said the move was "disproportionate".
Asked if a repeal result will mean a challenge in the courts in light of today's decision, John McGuirk of Save the Eighth said events had made it "significantly more likely individuals will challenge the result".
Mr McGuirk said "the high tens of thousands" had been ear marked by Save the Eighth for online advertising.
Additional reporting by Ailbhe ConneelySource: Google News