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Google has banned all advertisements for both sides in the abortion referendum in Ireland.

The ban will go into effect in the next 24 hours and will last until the campaign is over.

A campaigner on transparency issues has said social media companies including Google and Facebook are self-regulating advertising on the referendum on the Eighth Amendment in the absence of proper policy by the Government.

This latest move will bring to €1bn the amount of money invested by Google in Ireland since 2003.

"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 spokesperson said.

The move follows a similar decision made by Facebook to counter foreign influence on the vote.

"Online was the only platform available to the No campaign to speak to voters directly".

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Pro-choice groups say it creates a level playing field, but pro-life groups say it's an attempt to "rig the referendum".

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.

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.

Comments that contain spam, advertising, vulgarity, threats of violence, racism, anti-Semitism, or personal or abusive attacks on other users may be removed and result in a ban.

The group claims that it will now be put at a disadvantage because it had particularly relied on posters and social media to put out its message. The post continued, explaining that banning ads is in the spirit of Irish electoral law, which prohibits campaigns from accepting donations from outside the country.

However this US -first focus leaves other regions vulnerable to election fiddlers - hence Google deciding to suspend ad buys around the Irish vote, albeit tardily.


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