A Microsoft-related subplot emerged over the weekend in the ongoing controversy over BuzzFeed deleting posts under pressure from its own business department.
A post on BuzzFeed “making fun of” Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser was deleted in 2013 based on a complaint from BuzzFeed’s chief revenue officer, according to a memo from BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith, cited by the New York Times this weekend.
This is one of several posts that BuzzFeed acknowledges were deleted due to complaints from members of the BuzzFeed business department who worked with the brands mentioned in the posts.
The reason for deleting the IE post: The BuzzFeed staffer who wrote the piece had worked on a Microsoft ad campaign as part of his previous role leading BuzzFeed’s Creative department, according to the memo.
BuzzFeed has been conducting an internal review following the deletion of posts critical of Monopoly (Hasbro is a BuzzFeed advertiser) and Dove soap (whose parent Unilever is a BuzzFeed advertiser).
Here’s the excerpt from the memo explaining the deletion of the Internet Explorer post.
Tanner Ringerud led BuzzFeed’s Creative department in its early days; he moved over to editorial on January 25, 2013. On March 5, he published a post making fun of a Microsoft product, Internet Explorer. He had worked on a Microsoft ad campaign, and BuzzFeed’s chief revenue officer complained about the post to me. We agreed that it was inappropriate for Tanner to write about brands whose ad campaigns he’d worked on. We set up a “cooling off period” in which he wasn’t allowed to write about any brands he’d worked with for six months. We’ve made that a policy in the two other cases in which a staffer moved from the business side to editorial — one BuzzFeed News writer and one BuzzTeam illustrator.
Microsoft had been seeking to improve Internet Explorer’s reputation as its browser battles against Chrome, Firefox and other rivals. The company is launching a new browser, under the code name “Project Spartan” with the upcoming Windows 10 release.
Some of the other deleted BuzzFeed posts are available via the Internet Archive, but we’ve been digging around and the post referencing IE doesn’t appear to have been indexed by the archive.
Microsoft declined to comment in response to GeekWire’s inquiry.