Science & Tech

Facebook to Introduce Ad-Transparency Tool in Ireland ahead of Abortion Vote


Facebook will provide Ireland with a new tool aimed at enhancing transparency in political advertising a month ahead of a hotly contested referendum that would liberalize the country’s strict abortion laws.

“As of April 25, we will add Ireland to our pilot program to the first phase of our transparency efforts, the ‘view ads’. Ireland will be the second and only other country that we roll out before the global deployment,” said Facebook’s vice president for global policy, Joel Kaplan, on Tuesday. “We hope that this will bring greater transparency to ads running in the context of the forthcoming referendum on the eighth amendment.”

The social-media giant debuted the tool this month as one of the steps it is taking to crack down on attempts by trolls, especially Russian ones, to meddle in elections. It will allow users will to go to the advertiser’s page and see all the ads it is running. The company plans to add other checks in the future, including a requirement that all ads touching on political issues be pre-approved, and that advertisers confirm their identities and locations. Facebook users will also be given information about the reach of such ads.

“When you visit a Page or see an ad on Facebook it should be clear who it’s coming from,” the company said in a statement outlining its ad-transparency initiative.

Facebook has endured close scrutiny from users, critics, and Congress in recent weeks after it was revealed that at least 87 million users, including approximately 45,000 Irish users, had their personal information improperly leaked to data firm Cambridge Analytica, which was hired by the Trump campaign.

The “view ads” tool was first tested successfully in Canada and will be available in Ireland on April 25, a month before the May 25 vote, Facebook said.

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