Facebook will create a very strong case for election transparency and provide a never before insight about how social media is used for targeting of voters by publishing comprehensive data about political advertising in the run up to the referendum campaign for abortion in Ireland.
Details of the amount spent on targeting Irish voters in the time period of 1 March and 25 May would be provided by the largest social media platform without giving out any names and will also disclose the number of referendum-linked ads that were purchased in the period, the US company has told Irish politicians.
The company would also brandish information about the proposed advertisements and the proposed spending for them which had been turned down by the company following the application of its policy of not allowing payments from foreign organizations for campaigns that were to be conducted inside of Ireland.
the social media firm’s decision has bene welcomed by the Irish Green party leader, Eamon Ryan. He has been at the forefront of demanding greater transparency and pushing the government to pas a new legislation seeking greater regulations of political campaigning on online media.
“Providing data about online spending in the recent Irish abortion referendum sets an important precedent, which should apply now in every future vote,” Ryan said.
“We want transparency about online political advertising so hidden funding does not distort the democratic process. What took place during the Brexit referendum and the last US presidential election cannot be ignored or allowed to happen again.”
A call to Google to furnish details of spending on advertisement on its multiple platforms which includes the search engine and on the video-sharing site YouTube was laso given by him citing the example set by Facebook.
After the Irish referendum, there emerged some allegations of foreign organizations taking benefits of a loophole in the Irish law to target voters online, there have been rising concerns related to “dark ads”. Which are online advertisements that are only targeted to individuals and small groups of voters and are not visible to others those electorate who are not targeted.
The legislation that is being talked about dates back to a period when there was no internet and it omits regulation of money that is spent directly on digital advertising even though accepting and using foreign money is banned for Irish political parties and registered campaigns.
There was global attention to the abortion referendum in Ireland – especially form those opposing abortion, because a near-total ban on the termination of pregnancies is enshrined in the 8th amendment of the constitution.
all referendum-linked advertising on its sites were banned by Goggle following sustained pressure from Irish politicians and activists which included the non-partisan Transparent Referendum Institute.
Before the original referendum date, a cache of tools to enhance advertising transparency was introduced by Facebook apart from completely banning foreign organizations form running political advertisement related to the polls.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)