Donald Trump has demanded that the media name the whistleblower who first reported his alleged misconduct toward Ukraine, but Facebook and YouTube are not going along the president’s wishes.
As CNN Business reported on Friday, the sites have been removing posts with the alleged name of the person who first filed a complaint that Trump was improperly pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political rival, Joe Biden. The complaint, which critics say was initially suppressed by the Justice Department, has since sparked impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Though federal whistleblowers are given protections from facing repercussions for their complaints, Trump has made increasingly sharp attacks on the still-unknown person, saying that he may consider suing the whistleblower and their lawyer and possibly charging them with treason. The president had previously insinuated that the whistleblower could be executed as a spy.
While Trump has called on media to name the person who first filed the complaint that has led to an impeachment inquiry, Facebook said this week that it will not allow posts that contain the alleged name of the whistleblower.
“Any mention of the potential whistleblower’s name violates our coordinating harm policy, which prohibits content ‘outing of witness, informant, or activist,'” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the policy could be revisited if the person’s name is widely published in the media or used by public figures in debate.
YouTube has adopted a similar policy, taking down all videos with the alleged whistleblower’s name in the title or content. CNN noted that it had issued a guidance to reporters not to refer to the person claimed to be the whistleblower as well.
Others have not followed suit. A number of right-wing media outlets have published stories claiming to have identified the whistleblower, and this week Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., included the name in a Twitter post.
President Trump has come under fire for his attempts to out the whistleblower, prompting the lawyer representing the whistleblower to send Trump a “cease and desist” letter warning of potential legal action if he does not stop publicly attacking the person.
“I am writing out of deep concern that your client, the president of the United States, is engaging in rhetoric and activity that places my client, the Intelligence Community whistleblower, and their family in physical danger,” attorney Andrew Bakaj wrote in a letter to White House counsel Pat Cipollone and shared on Twitter.