Teen Vogue published and then deleted a longform feature on Facebook’s “election integrity team,” an article on the company’s “fake news” defenses that was allegedly sponsored content from Facebook itself.
The now-deleted article was a puff piece, explaining “How Facebook Is Helping Ensure the Integrity of the 2020 Election.” It featured a string of softball questions with women from Facebook’s various content moderation teams, with zero pushback on their answers.
After numerous observers on Twitter pointed out that the article seemed like sponsored content, Teen Vogue reportedly added a note to the piece acknowledging that it was indeed sponsored content from Facebook. According to the New York Times, the disclaimer said: “Editor’s note: This is sponsored editorial content.”
Shortly thereafter, Teen Vogue deleted the story altogether.
– Teen Vogue runs Facebook story people think is sponsored content
– Adds note saying its sponcon
– Then removes note
– FB denies to me that it's sponcon
– Teen Vogue tweets "literally idk," then deletes tweet
– Entire article suddenly disappears
— Rob Price (@robaeprice) January 8, 2020
A Facebook spokesman confirmed to Breitbart News that the social media company did sponsor content from Teen Vogue, but emphasized that they were not aware that the initially unlabeled article was among it.
“We had a paid partnership with Teen Vogue related to their women’s summit, which included sponsored content,” said the Facebook spokesman. “Our team understood this story was purely editorial, but there was a misunderstanding.”
Teen Vogue did not respond to Breitbart News’ request for comment. However, the site’s parent company, Condé Nast, admitted “errors in labeling” the piece to the New York Times.
“We made a series of errors labeling this piece, and we apologize for any confusion this may have caused,” said Condé Nast. “We don’t take our audience’s trust for granted, and ultimately decided that the piece should be taken down entirely to avoid further confusion”
The Times also quoted a Condé Nast insider who reportedly admitted that the Teen Vogue piece was indeed sponsored content from Facebook.
The Teen Vogue article was saved on internet archives before the publication deleted it, and can be read in full here. In the interview with Teen Vogue, Facebook’s integrity team echoed familiar talking points, including boasts about the company’s expanded capacity to censor.
“We’ve transformed our approach to elections,” said Katie Harbath, who is the company’s imperiously-titled “Director, Global Elections.”
“We’ve taken down content and ads from people in other countries trying to run political ads in the US. We block millions of fake accounts every day.”
Are you an insider at Facebook, YouTube, Google, Reddit or any other tech company who wants to confidentially reveal wrongdoing or political bias at your company? Reach out to Allum Bokhari at his secure email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.