(Washington Times) A move by Facebook and Google to restrict political advertising ahead of Ireland’s fiercely contested abortion referendum Friday has outraged critics, who call it the latest example of the social media giants’ power to put a heavy digital thumb on the electoral scales — even when they strive not to get involved.
After heavy criticism of their handling of political advertising and planted false stories in the Brexit debate in Britain and the U.S. 2016 presidential race, many see the restrictions imposed ahead of Friday’s vote as a possible model for Facebook, Google and other platforms as they try to escape the political crossfire.
The restrictions are being introduced in one of the most hotly contested national votes in recent memory. Irish voters will be heading to the polls to consider easing some of Europe’s most restrictive laws on abortion.
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Irish abortion opponents say the online restrictions, including Facebook’s ban on all ads on the referendum from foreign groups and fact-check stories, were clearly intended to benefit the pro-choice side.