Facebook reportedly bans mentions of White House whistleblower's name

YouTube has taken a similar approach to videos mentioning the person.

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Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Corinne Reichert
2 min read

Facebook is reportedly removing posts that identify the White House whistleblower by name.

Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook is removing posts that name the whistleblower involved in the impeachment of US President Donald Trump, Reuters reported Friday, a move that follows publication of a story by Breitbart News that claims to identify the person. Similarly, Google-owned YouTube is removing videos that mention the name of the potential whistleblower, as CNN reported earlier. 

The White House whistleblower wrote a nine-page complaint in July that alleged senior officials tried to "lock down" the details of Trump's phone call over the summer with Ukraine's president. During the phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump brought up the prospect of an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son.

The revelation led to an impeachment inquiry being launched.

The Breitbart post naming the potential whistleblower was reportedly flagged by Facebook for being "at risk of being unpublished," and users trying to click through Facebook to the article were served a message saying the content was unavailable, Reuters said.

"Any mention of the potential whistleblower's name violates our coordinating harm policy, which prohibits content 'outing of witness, informant or activist,'" Facebook told Breitbart and Reuters in a statement. "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."

YouTube told CNN it would use machine learning and human review to find and remove any such content.

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Google confirmed to CNET that YouTube is removing posts that mention the name of the potential whistleblower, while Twitter pointed to its own private information policy in response to the moves from Google and Facebook.

"Any tweets that include personally identifiable information about any individual, including the alleged whistleblower, would be in violation of the Twitter Rules," a company spokesperson told CNET Saturday.

First published at 3:22 p.m. PT on Nov. 8.
Updated on Nov. 11 at 12:14 p.m.: Adds statement from Twitter.