Facebook purged its platform of paid advertisements naming an individual alleged to be the intelligence community whistleblower who sparked impeachment proceedings as President Trump and his allies recently escalated calls for the person’s identity to be outed.
The social networking company said it was removing ads containing the name of a person several outlets have identified as the likely whistleblower, BuzzFeed News first reported Wednesday.
“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 told The Washington Times.
At least six ads containing the alleged whistleblower’s name were placed on Facebook recently, which in turn received thousands of views and other engagements before being pulled for violating the platform’s policies, BuzzFeed reported.
“This is particularly significant in this case where I have made it clear time and time again that reporting any suspected name for the whistleblower will place that individual and their family at risk of serious harm,” Andrew P. Bakaj, an attorney for the whistleblower, told The Washington Post. “To that end, I am deeply troubled with Facebook seeking to profit from advertising that would place someone in harm’s way. This, frankly, is at the pinnacle of irresponsibility and is intentionally reckless.”
Mr. Bakaj and Mark S. Zaid, another attorney representing the whistleblower, have refused to identify their client in the weeks since that person triggered Congress to launch an impeachment inquiry, citing both safety concerns and the risk of potentially deterring future whistleblowers from coming forward.
The president and his has allies have recently ramped up calls for the individual’s identity to be released, which escalated when his oldest son posted on Twitter the name of a person on Wednesday he referred to as being the alleged whistleblower.
More recently, Mr. Bakaj sent the White House a letter Thursday evening demanding the president cease-and-desist his recent attacks against the whistleblower.
“Those who are complicit in this vindictive campaign against my client, whether through action or inaction, shall also be responsible, be that legally or morally,” the attorney wrote.
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.
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