The phenomenon of digital political campaigning has been at the center of global public attention – at the latest since the last US Presidential Election – and was further exacerbated by the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018. Concerns about transparency, protection of personal data and the use of digital political campaigning to spread disinformation have grown considerably.
Policy makers have begun to act upon these challenges, which led to the banning of advertising by non-Irish citizens on Facebook for the 2018 abortion referendum (while ads on Google were banned altogether). At the EU level, the European Commission launched a dialogue process ahead of the European Parliament elections, which culminated in a self-regulatory Code of Practice on Disinformation signed by Facebook, Google, Twitter and Mozilla and members of the advertising industry in October 2018, and later joined by other companies including Microsoft (European Commission 2018). The Code outlines several steps to increase transparency about digital political advertising but does not foresee clear enforcement / sanction mechanisms.