BuzzFeed Says Posts Were Deleted Because of Advertising Pressure

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buzzfeedAn internal review by BuzzFeed last week found three instances when editors deleted posts after an advertiser or employees from the company’s business side complained about their content, according to a memo sent to staff members on Saturday by the news and entertainment website’s editor in chief.

The three deleted posts — out of more than 1,000 expunged for other reasons, according to the memo — had criticized products or advertisements produced by Microsoft, Pepsi and Axe body spray, a Unilever product. In the memo, the editor, Ben Smith, wrote that they were “pulled after an editor fielded a complaint from a business-side BuzzFeed staff member who worked with a brand mentioned in the piece.”

An image from YouTube of a Dove cosmetics ad. A post criticizing the campaign was removed from BuzzFeed, then restored. The disclosure about the reasons for the deletions came four months after BuzzFeed unveiled editorial guidelines meant to highlight its continuing attempt to transform from a creator and aggregator of viral web content into a digital news organization. It also followed an admission this month by Mr. Smith that he had ordered editors to delete two other posts critical of BuzzFeed advertisers: Dove soap — also produced by Unilever — and the toy manufacturer Hasbro.

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