The Current

What can Ireland's abortion referendum teach us about election meddling in the internet age?

Ireland is about to hold a historic referendum on repealing the country's Eighth Amendment, which in effect bans abortion. As international interest in the vote has grown, it is being seen as a test case for electoral integrity.

Friday's vote is being seen as a test case for election integrity

The Eighth Amendment to Ireland's constitution acts as an effective ban on abortion. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)

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Ireland will go to the polls Friday for a referendum on the country's Eighth Amendment, which in its current state bans abortion, including in cases of rape, incest and fatal fetal abnormality.

In the wake of allegations over anonymous ads and foreign interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election — as well as the Brexit referendum — Friday's vote is being seen as a test case for election integrity.

Facebook and Google, facing pressure over the roles their platforms play in protecting that integrity, announced this month that they were blocking advertising related to the campaign.

To discuss the issue, The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti spoke to:

  • Ellen Coyne, a journalist with the Irish edition of the U.K. newspaper The Times, who has been covering the referendum.
  • Liz Carolan, co-founder of the Transparent Referendum Initiative, a public, crowd-sourced database of all political ads targeting Irish Facebook users.
  • Fenwick McKelvie, assistant professor of communication studies at Concordia University in Montreal.

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this page.

This segment was produced by The Current's Idella Sturino and Danielle Carr.