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Facebook bans foreign advertisers from Irish abortion referendum

The social network cites concerns over meddling in the sensitive vote.

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Facebook says it won't accept any foreign ads related to the upcoming abortion referendum in Ireland. 

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Facebook has banned foreign spending on ads related to an upcoming Irish vote on its abortion law, saying it's concerned groups outside of the country may try to influence the outcome of the sensitive referendum.

The social network said on Tuesday it would reject ads related to the May 25 vote, which could repeal the country's ban on abortion if the messages were purchased by "advertisers outside of Ireland." Ireland doesn't allow political donations from other countries, but its laws don't cover advertising on social media.

Ireland goes to the polls in two weeks' time to decide whether it should end its ban on abortion, which is included in its constitution. The vote has attracted worldwide attention.

"We are an open platform for people to express ideas and views on both sides of a debate," Facebook said in a statement. "Our goal is simple: to help ensure a free, fair and transparent vote on this important issue."

The move is part of a broader effort to help protect the integrity of voting, the company said.

Facebook has come under scrutiny after Russian trolls used the social network to meddle in the 2016 presidential election. It's also come under fire because data on 87 million Facebook users was allegedly misused by Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm, during the contentious campaign.