Ireland’s abortion referendum under siege from bots and fake ads

As Ireland gears up for a historic referendum on abortion scheduled for May 25, there are growing concerns that campaigners are resorting to some of the same tactics used in the U.S. presidential election and Brexit referendum to sway undecided voters.

Social media have been awash with bots retweeting opinions and articles with a strong anti-abortion-rights message, according to observers, while Facebook users have been bombarded with privately sponsored or anonymous ads that are popping up in their feeds in an attempt to influence their decisions, according to data from the nonprofit Transparent Referendum Initiative.

On Wednesday, Google Inc.

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