Facebook reportedly bans mentions of White House whistleblower's name

Bertrand Guay  AFP  Getty Images

Some right-leaning news outlets have cited a name they say is the whistleblower.

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.

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. Conservative commentator Candace Owens, for example, twice posted tweets that purported to name and show images of the whistleblower.

But the whistleblower's attorneys have said that such disclosure poses a threat to their client, and they have urged news outlets to refrain from doing so.

The House passed a resolution last week to move forward on the inquiry on whether Trump tried to solicit help from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, along with Ukrainian company Burisma.

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The whistleblower, a USA 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. Conversely, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN that tweeting the name didn't violate its rules.

The company's statement follows conservative Breitbart News' publication of an article that said it identified the whistleblower. That category does include such details as a person's address, contact information or medical records.

The whistleblower, who is said to be a US intelligence official, complained about Trump's July 25 telephone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. But, she added, there could be other possible legal recourse.

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. The whistleblower's name has been kept confidential by US officials, in line with federal law created to prevent retaliation.

A YouTube spokesperson said videos mentioning the potential whistleblower's name would also be removed. Twitter did not immediately respond to messages for comment. But on Wednesday - before Facebook said it would remove the ads - they said social media platforms have an ethical responsibility to protect "those who lawfully expose suspected government wrongdoing".

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