BuzzFeed admitted this weekend that it unpublished three stories for advertising reasons, Gawker reported.
Earlier this month, BuzzFeed stirred up controversy when it deleted a story critical of Dove, an advertiser. While at first BuzzFeed’s editor Ben Smith stood by the decision, arguing it was an editorial decision because the story lacked evidence, he later admitted he “blew it” by taking the story down.
Yesterday, Gawker obtained a memo from Smith saying that he ordered a review of all of BuzzFeed’s deleted posts from his January 2012 hiring to the present. The New York Times also published the memo on Document Cloud.
The results? More than 1,000 unpublished stories. BuzzFeed broke down the reasons when (and how many stories were yanked):
- Editors found stories had problems (100): “This category runs the gamut: Pieces that editors felt were sloppily done, pieces that editors or writers later decided were in bad taste, pieces that editors deemed inaccurate or in some other way flawed, pieces where a subject requested content be removed, etc.”
- Advertisers complained to BuzzFeed (3)
- Stories contained content that BuzzFeed couldn’t use for copyright reasons” (65)
- Stories were accidentally posted (263)
- More than one story on the same topic was posted (122)
- Community users (non-staff positions) decided to delete their posts (140)
- Something was posted and deleted as part of testing (377)
Smith specifically addressed the three blogposts that were unpublished for advertising reasons.
1. A post from 2013 criticized Axe body spray, an advertiser. “An ad agency complained, via our chief revenue officer at the time, that [the BuzzFeed blogger] was accusing them of advocating “worldwide mass rape” in an ad for Axe body spray, and that the tone of his item was over the top. ” (More on that in this Gawker blogpost from the time about the controversy, written by the writer whose work was taken down, Mark “Copyranter” Duffy.)
2. A second post from 2013 mocked Internet Exlporer. It was unpublished because the writer, Tanner Ringerud, had previously worked on Microsoft ads for BuzzFeed. Smith wrote that “it was inappropriate for Tanner to write about brands whose ad campaigns he’d worked on.” Because of that incident, Ringerud wasn’t allowed to “write about any brands he’d worked with for six months. ”
3. Finally, a 2014 blogpost was unpublished because it covered a Pepsi ad made by and for BuzzFeed.
The BuzzFeed review was conducted by deputy managing editor Annie-Rose Strasser, Smith wrote.
Earlier this year, BuzzFeed unpublished several thousand posts it said didn’t meet its editorial standards. BuzzFeed told iMediaEthics the 1,100 blogposts discussed in the review are separate from the thousands previously deleted.