Google has banned all adverts relating to the Irish abortion referendum from its platform, amid fears of overseas organisations taking advantage of loopholes in campaign funding laws to target voters before polling day. The decision will mean an end to advertisements relating to the referendum appearing alongside Google results and on YouTube during the final fortnight 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 spokesperson said.
The move follows Facebook’s announcement on Tuesday that it would only allow adverts relating to the referendum to be bought by organisations located within the Republic of Ireland. Although Irish law bans foreign donations to political campaigns, there had been concerns that overseas campaigners were still able to spend potentially unlimited sums buying adverts targeting Irish voters.
Irish voters will go to the polls on 25 May to decide whether to repeal the eighth amendment to the Irish constitution, which guarantees the “right to life of the unborn” and ensures abortion remains illegal. Recent polls show a narrow lead for the campaign to repeal the amendment, although many voters have yet to make up their mind.