Facebook Says It’s Removing Mentions Of Potential Names Of Ukraine Whistleblower

Cheryl Sanders
November 10, 2019

The Washington Post and the New York Times have said that they are refraining from naming the whistleblower, and other mainstream news outlets also have not made such disclosures.

Twitter, however, said that mentioning the name of the person believed to be the whistleblower is not a violation of its rules and tweets doing so would not be scrubbed from the platform.

The Associated Press typically does not reveal the identity of whistleblowers. The whistleblower filed a complaint about the call, which has led into an impeachment inquiry for the president.

This split came after repeated warnings by the whistleblower's lawyers that publicizing a name puts that person and the person's family at risk. Exposing whistleblowers can be tricky business, even for a president.

Facebook has banned "any mention" of the potential Trump administration whistleblower's name on its social network, including links to news articles which could indicate the whistleblower's identity.

That includes the name, birthdate or employment of a person, as well as descriptions of a person's physical appearance and "gossip, rumors, accusations, and allegations".

The company said Friday that mention of the potential whistleblower's name violates Facebook's "coordinating harm policy", which prohibits material that could identify a "witness, informant, or activist".

While whistleblowers enjoy protections under federal law created to encourage government employees to report wrongdoing without fear of retaliation, Heidi Kitrosser, a law professor at the University of Minnesota, said those protections would not prohibit private individuals from seeking to unmask a whistleblower.

Because the individual named by Breitbart and elsewhere has not been confirmed as the whistleblower, his name has not been used in most media coverage of the controversy. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday. The whistleblower's name has been kept confidential by USA officials, in line with federal law created to prevent retaliation.

The news outlet said that Facebook users who were trying to view the report received a message that it wasn't available. Facebook's requirement to revise its policy on Ciaramella appears to already have been met.

Facebook has recently defended taking a hands-off approach to political content, particularly with ads, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg argues should not be fact-checked by Facebook.

Other reports by iNewsToday