Facebook had no “definitive answer” on U.S. Interference in Abortion Referendum problem

FACEBOOK looked for advice on how to deal with U.S. pages targeting Irish voters in the run-up to the repeal referendum only to find there was no “definitive answer” on what could be done.

Correspondence between the social media giant and the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) show major concerns over how apparent links between groups in Ireland and those based outside could ever be proven.

Facebook had originally flagged concerns in mid-April over a case where Irish adverts on abortion were then being promoted by an American page.

This involved an Irish Facebook page posting material on its homepage which was then “re-shared and boosted” by a page outside the country.

Head of Public Policy Niamh Sweeney explained: “The ‘foreign’ page then ‘boosted’ the post and targeted the boosted post to Irish users.”

She asked whether this counted as a foreign donation, which is against the law, but said there was “opaqueness” over whether this type of boosting would actually qualify.

Ms Sweeney wrote: “We appreciate these are new and challenge issues to consider and as we can expect to see this issue again, we are looking forward to hearing your views.”