Facebook will purge any mention of the potential Trump administration whistleblower’s name over fears it could lead to”real-world harm,” a company spokesperson confirmed to TheWrap on Friday.
The policy applies to Facebook’s 2.4 billion users, media partners and advertisers. News articles and links mentioning the potential whistleblower’s identity will also be removed.
“Any mention of the potential whistleblower’s name violates our coordinating harm policy, which prohibits content ‘outing of witness, informant, or activist.’ We are removing any and all mentions of the potential whistleblower’s name and will revisit this decision should their name be widely published in the media or used by public figures in debate,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
Facebook’s “coordinating harm policy” bans users from advocating several things, including swatting, acts of physical harm, and fraud.
“In an effort to prevent and disrupt real-world harm, we prohibit people from facilitating or coordinating future activity, criminal or otherwise, that is intended or likely to cause harm to people, businesses, or animals,” the company explained under its “policy rationale.”
Earlier this week, the previously unnamed whistleblower’s identity had circulated on social media after right-wing outlets like Breitbart and RealClearPolitics published and shared articles releasing the person’s name. Donald Trump Jr., who has 4 million followers on Twitter, had also tweeted out the alleged whistleblower’s name on Wednesday, unbeknownst to the president or other White House officials.
Since then, Breitbart has had multiple Facebook posts about the whistleblower removed.
“To be clear, Breitbart did not ‘out’ the alleged whistleblower but did provide additional relevant reporting about him; he is, after all, a public figure, having served on the National Security Council,” Breitbart reporter Allum Bokhari wrote on Friday. “Moreover, his name has been used in the Mueller report (p283) and Ambassador Bill Taylor’s testimony.”
But in a statement, the whistleblower’s attorneys have cautioned against “identifying any suspected name for the whistleblower” because of the “risk of serious harm” that the individual and their family might face.
“We will not confirm or deny any name that is published but we will note publication does nothing other than show the desperation of a partisan crowd to deflect from the substance of the whistleblower complaint,” the statement also said. “It most certainly will not relieve the President of the need to address the substantive allegations, all of which have been substantially proven to be true.”
Update: Shortly after this story was published on Friday afternoon, a Twitter spokesperson told TheWrap it would enforce the same policy regarding the alleged whistleblower’s identity.
“Per our private information policy, any Tweets that include personally identifiable information about any individual, including the alleged whistleblower, would be in violation of the Twitter Rules,” the spokesperson said.
Twitter’s policy can be found here.
Donald Trump Jr. tweeted the alleged whistleblower’s name on Nov. 6 and included a link to a story on Breitbart.com. When asked if his tweet violated the company’s rules and whether it would remove the tweet, the Twitter spokesperson declined to comment further.
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