By Dave Andrusko
This has been coming on in Ireland for months, really since the outlines of the wording for the May 25 referendum to gut protections for unborn children were released. Simon Harris, the Minister of Health, and others, committed to overturning the 8th Amendment that guarantees equal rights for unborn children, began to darkly hint that pro-lifers would be saying things that the government doesn’t want said—and that can’t be allowed.
So the giants Google and Facebook are falling into line–all, of course, in the name of preventing “outside interference” in the referendum. According to the Washington Post.
With the May 25 referendum just over two weeks away, Facebook announced Tuesday that it would stop accepting related advertisements from groups based outside Ireland. The restriction testifies to the depths of concern that foreign advertising could skew the outcome.
that it is asking political parties, campaign groups and an unaffiliated transparency initiative to flag advertisements, which the company will then investigate. It is also using machine learning to identify inappropriate content. “Our goal is simple: to help ensure a free, fair and transparent vote on this important issue,” the company said.
The Post’s Isaac Stanley-Becker says Google went further
saying it would put a moratorium on all referendum-related advertising, of both foreign and domestic origins. The measure will take effect by Thursday, a spokesperson for the Internet giant said, and will wipe paid messaging aiming to tip the vote from Google as well as YouTube.
Needless to say, the Post article, in talking about “outside” groups, mentioned only pro-life organizations and vaguely likened their behavior to “Russian aggression” in the 2016 United States presidential election.
Also needless to say, the “Yes” to overturning the 8th amendment has limitless amounts of money, the entire Irish media, the Irish branch of Amnesty International, to name a few advantages.
Proponents of removing the 8th Amendment and authorizing the government to legislate on abortion were happy as clams. But according to the pro-abortion Irish Times
the Pro-Life Campaign, the Save the 8th group and the Iona Institute criticised the decision which they said amounted to Google “shutting down a free and fair debate”.
The groups held a joint press conference in the wake of Google’s announcement at which they said the move was taken because of fears of the No side will be victorious in the campaign.
But as “Save the Eighth” said in response, it goes much further than that: “Online was the only platform available to the NO campaign to speak to voters directly. That platform is now being undermined in order to prevent the public from hearing the message of one side.”
Here is its full statement about Google’s action under the headline
This decision by Google is not about “concerns about the integrity of elections.”
It is about concerns that the “No” side might win.
In this referendum, Amnesty and the IFPA [The Irish Family Planning Association] have received over €400,000 [$475,000] in foreign donations. When asked to return an illegal foreign donation, Amnesty refused, and yet Health Minister Harris is content to campaign alongside an organisation that has broken the law.
It is very clear that the government, much of the establishment media, and corporate Ireland have determined that anything to secure a Yes vote must be done.
In this case, it means preventing campaigns have done nothing illegal from campaigning in a perfectly legal manner.
This decision has been taken because one side in this referendum is afraid it is losing, and wants to prevent voters from being informed.
This campaign has been marked by attacks on every form of legitimate campaigning the NO side has taken part in, and a complete absence of scrutiny for the YES side.
Despite all of that, the polls have narrowed, and clearly there is fear in establishment Ireland that this referendum will be defeated. That explains the massive pressure exerted on Google, Facebook, and other platforms to deny advertising space to the NO campaign.
It is scandalous, and it is an attempt to rig the referendum.
Online was the only platform available to the NO campaign to speak to voters directly. That platform is now being undermined in order to prevent the public from hearing the message of one side.
This is completely unacceptable, and it brings the conduct of what had, heretofore, been a civil campaign into severe dispute.