The Tablet Staff
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed that the social media giant blocked Americans from posting ads supporting the right to life in Ireland during the election cycle before Ireland’s referendum last year that made abortion legal in that country.
The revelation comes on the heels of suspicion that Facebook discriminates against pro-life organizations in its content and advertising. In the past, the website has blocked posts from pro-life groups such as the American Pregnancy Association.
According to Irish Central, while speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado on June 26, Zuckerberg said Facebook blocked the ads so that Americans would be unable to influence Ireland’s referendum, which passed in May 2018 with 66 percent of the vote favoring legal abortion to 34 percent against.
“During that election, leading up to that referendum, a bunch of pro-life American groups advertised in this Irish, leading up to this Irish election, to try to influence public opinion there,” Zuckerberg said, according to LifeSite News.
At the time, the Irish government had no laws in place regarding foreign political advertising. That allowed Facebook to run or block the ads, even though the Irish government didn’t view the targeted pro-life content from U.S. site users as “election interference,” according to LifeSite News.
Zuckerberg claims that Irish officials told his company, “we don’t currently have a law, so you need to make whatever decision you want to make.”
“We went to the Irish, and asked folks there, ‘How do you want us to handle this? You have no laws on the books that are relevant for whether we should be allowing this kind of speech in your election, and really this doesn’t feel like the kind of thing that a private company should be making a decision on,’ ” Zuckerberg said.
The company has previously denied censorship of content it deems to be conservative. On July 11, the White House will host a social media summit, where President Trump will meet digital media companies to discuss the power of social media. Representatives from Facebook and its Instagram unit won’t be in attendance.