BuzzFeed reinstates removed posts after controversy

BuzzFeed has reinstated two posts after controversy stemming from recent charges that they were taken down from the site in response to pressure from advertisers. BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith tweeted out a note to editorial employees explaining his decision to re-publish the posts. It reads, in part:

Hey all, I blew it. Twice in the last couple of months, I've asked editors — over their better judgement and without any respect to our standards or process — to delete recently published posts from the site. Both involved the same thing: my overreaction to questions we've been wrestling with about the place of personal opinion pieces on our site. I reacted impulsively when I saw the posts and I was wrong to do that. We've reinstated both with a brief note.

The posts, one about the board game Monopoly written by BuzzFeed UK editor Tom Chivers and one about a Dove soap ad written by beauty editor Arabelle Sicardi, both carry the following editor's note:

This post was inappropriately deleted amid an ongoing conversation about how and when to publish personal opinion pieces on BuzzFeed. The deletion was in violation of our editorial standards and the post has been reinstated.

Smith's decision to reinstate the post comes a day after Gawker's J.K. Trotter first reported Sicardi's post had been removed from the website. Dove, Trotter points out, is among the brands in the portfolio of Unilever, which has purchased ads from BuzzFeed.

In response to the criticism that BuzzFeed had removed the post in violation of its own editorial standards, BuzzFeed staffers issued a memo Thursday saying that the removal was prompted by a debate over the use of personal opinion in the site's content.

On Friday, Trotter published an article revealing that Chivers' story had been removed, triggering renewed debate among media watchers. Mathew Ingram, a senior writer at Fortune, wrote a post contending the removals were harming the outlet's creditability.

BuzzFeed has previously been scrutinized for decisions to remove content. In August, Trotter reported that more than 4,000 posts were missing from the site. Smith justified the removal by by explaining that the posts were holdovers from BuzzFeed's early days and noted that the site didn't handle the situation as well as it should have.

  • Profile picture for user bmullin

    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.


Related News

Email IconGroup 3Facebook IconLinkedIn IconsearchGroupTwitter IconGroup 2YouTube Icon