For weeks now, the suspected identity of the whistleblower, a United States intelligence official, has been circulating on social media among some conservative news outlets and users.
The whistleblower's attorney sent the White House a cease and desist letter demanding the president stop calling for the release of the whistleblower's name on Friday, as well as using threatening language in reaction to their existence. Exposing whistleblowers can be dicey, even for a president.
However, on Twitter the name was circulating widely on Friday. According to Reuters, the company announced the move Friday following the posting of an article that claims to identify the whistleblower. Conversely, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN that tweeting the name didn't violate its rules. That category does include such details as a person's address, contact information or medical records. Twitter policy permits "sharing information that is publicly available elsewhere, in a non-abusive manner". They allow name, birthdate or employment of a person, as well as descriptions of a person's physical appearance and gossip, rumors, accusations, and allegations. For one thing, doing so could be a violation of federal law.
"If a person's life is in danger, then there could be criminal ramifications", said Kitrosser, though she added that First Amendment considerations would be involved in any possible argument about incitement to violence.
Facebook and Youtube blocked references to the supposed whistleblower's name and images under the policy against "coordinating harm". That post now has more than 15,000 retweets.
Responding to the buzz around Donald Trump Jr. and Owen's tweets, Twitter defended its decision to allow the sharing of the Central Intelligence Agency officer's name, despite acknowledgment that such tweets might violate Twitter's policies. The decision follows Facebook's earlier choice to remove ads featuring the name - which Republican political figures, including Donald Trump, Jr., have publicized on Twitter. "This, frankly, is at the pinnacle of irresponsibility and is intentionally reckless". The ads were taken down by Facebook on Wednesday following the newspaper's probe.
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