Ireland Is Holding A Referendum On Abortion, And Misinformation Is Already Being Spread On Facebook

With less than two months to go until Ireland holds a historic referendum on repealing the eighth amendment – the law which prohibits abortion in almost all circumstances – Facebook is expected to be a major campaign battleground.

Facebook says it aims to ensure all content posted on its platform complies with the law, but legal guidelines and restrictions that ensure the accuracy of political campaign information distributed in Ireland do not apply to social media.

While the Irish government has proposed laws to address that, the legislation will not be finalised before the abortion referendum takes place on 25 May.

In the meantime, Facebook is working to help its users to differentiate between “fake news” and genuine campaign content with the help of an “educational notice” that will appear at the top of people’s news feeds in Ireland, a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.

The social media giant has already been criticised after it failed to remove a sponsored post from the Pro-Life Ireland campaign that included a disputable claim that relaxing abortion laws led to more women seeking the procedure. Facebook said the post did not violate its terms of service.

Analysis by independent monitoring body Transparent Referendum Initiative (TRI) has already found evidence of targeted Facebook posts paid for by non-Irish anti-abortion organisations appearing alongside sponsored content by pro-abortion and anti-abortion groups based in Ireland.



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