Facebook and YouTube remove content mentioning potential whistleblower's name

Facebook and Google-owned YouTube are both removing content mentioning the potential name of the whistleblower whose complaint has led to a formal impeachment investigation into President Trump.

The company confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday that mention of the possible ID violates Facebook's "coordinating harm policy," which prohibits material that could identify a "witness, informant or activist."

The Menlo Park, Calif., firm said it is removing mentions of the whistleblower's alleged name and will revisit this decision if the name is widely published in the media or used by public figures in debate.

A YouTube spokesperson said videos mentioning the potential name would also be removed, reports CNN Business. The spokesperson told the news outlet the company would use a combination of machine learning and human review to scrub the content. The removals will reportedly have an impact on titles and descriptions of videos as well as the videos' content itself.

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YouTube, which is owned by Google, has been removing content that allegedly features the name of the whistleblower.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, has been removing content that allegedly features the name of the whistleblower. (Getty Images)

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However, on Twitter the name was circulating widely on Friday. The company does not have a policy against identifying whistleblowers by name and is not removing the posts.

Some of the stories identifying the person came from the right-wing news site Breitbart, which Facebook counts as one of its news partners in a newly launched news section on its app. However, the company said it was also removing identifying posts on the whistleblower from Breitbart.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Twitter said it prohibits the sharing of "personally identifiable information about any individual, including the alleged whistleblower." But the company's policy on such information does not consider a person's name to be private information. That category does include such details as a person's address, contact information or medical records.

U.S. whistleblower laws exist to protect the identity and careers of people who bring forward accusations of wrongdoing by government officials. Lawmakers in both parties have historically backed those protections.

So far, President Trump has avoided identifying the whistleblower by name. Exposing whistleblowers can be tricky business, even for a president. For one thing, doing so could be a violation of federal law.

The Associated Press typically does not reveal the identity of whistleblowers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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