Facebook just made an important decision regarding the abortion referendum

Google U-turn on abortion adverts ahead of Irish referendum

It is understood that Google was made aware of concerns surrounding online advertising, with the ban on adverts related to the referendum to take effect by Thursday and to continue until the referendum on 25 May.

On Tuesday, Facebook started to block ads relating to the referendum that did not originate from advertisers inside Ireland.

"Our company approach is to build tools to increase transparency around political advertising so that people know who is paying for the ads they are seeing, and to ensure any organisation running a political ad is located in that country". The company, along with other social networks, has been heavily criticized for a failure to stop election-related ads from Russian Federation from appearing on users' feeds in the lead-up to the 2016 USA elections.

A spokeswoman for the pro-choice campaigning group "Together For Yes" welcomed the ban on Google Search and YouTube referendum ads.

The referendum is one of the first big elections held since the Cambridge Analytica scandal forced Facebook to answer questions from politicians around the world about its activities and the impact of targeted advertising for political ends. Facebook has plenty of motive to try and prevent foreign actors from buying politically charged ads.

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They also said that the action from Google was taken because one side of the referendum was afraid it is "losing" the campaign, and said that "massive pressure" had been exerted on the online companies from the government, media and Yes side to take action against adverts on the campaign.

John McGuirk speaking to the media about Google's decision to remove adverts to do with the 8th Referendum on their platform.

Meanwhile, the leader of Renua Ireland, the only political party to campaign for the retention of the Eighth Amendment, has noted that the decisions by Facebook and Google have occurred in "the dying weeks of the campaign".

Dawn Mcavoy is a Christian and co-founder of Both Lives Matter - a movement of individuals and organisations that want to re-frame the abortion debate in Northern Ireland and beyond from a pro-life perspective.

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