Facebook, the social media giant, has been increasingly stringent over its verification of the sources of political advertisements in its social media platform in its attempt to stop foreign interference, and that is evident in the approach of the company to Ireland. The social network is currently blocking any foreign ads about the Eighth Amendment referendum of Ireland that involves the rights of abortion. The company says that if the organization is not based in the Emerald Isle, it would not get a say ahead of the vote on the 25th of May. However, it is not considered as a complete ban, as Facebook will still allow Irish campaigns to make use of foreign service providers. But the company said that it should lessen the probability of conspicuous manipulation.
Facebook is depending on both local organizations (such as but not limited to the Transparent Referendum Initiative and political groups, parties on either side) and integrity-focused machine learning in order to police ads. The firm has pledged eventual anti-interference tools that will include a “verification process.” However, those are not completely ready. Facebook said that the moratorium on foreign ads will appear as if those tools are already in place today.
The Irish referendum could serve as a litmus test for the ability of Facebook to prevent electoral interference in the future, especially during the upcoming mid-term elections in the United States of America this coming November. The tech titan aims to show that the dark days of the meddling of the Russians are over, both to protect the reputation of the company and to head off the regulations that may possibly dictate more of the content that the platform allows. If it works out, Facebook may just gain (or regain) the trust of those who are convinced that it is being used as a political pawn.