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Facebook bars content claiming to name Trump impeachment whistleblower

Reuters logo Reuters 11/8/2019
a person standing in front of a sign: FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of laptop users are seen next to a screen projection of a Facebook logo © Reuters/Dado Ruvic FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of laptop users are seen next to a screen projection of a Facebook logo

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc. is taking down any content that claims to name the anonymous whistleblower who ignited an impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump, the social network said on Friday.

The company's statement follows right-wing Breitbart News' publication of an article that said it identified the whistleblower.

Breitbart, which former Trump adviser Steve Bannon once headed, reported that Facebook users attempting to view the article received a message saying the content was not available, and administrators of its Facebook page began receiving notifications on Wednesday evening that its page is "at risk of being unpublished."

"Any mention of the potential whistleblower's name violates our coordinating harm policy, which prohibits content 'outing of witness, informant, or activist,'" the company said in a statement, initially provided in response to Breitbart.

"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."

The whistleblower, a U.S. intelligence official who complained about Trump's July 25 telephone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has in recent days become a target of attacks by Trump, his allies in Congress and the conservative media, who have pushed for the person to be publicly identified.

Breitbart is one of the top-performing publishers on Facebook and was recently designated as an official Facebook News partner. Facebook said in response to criticism of that decision that Breitbart is an unpaid partner, unlike some outlets in the section.

(Reporting by Katie Paul; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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