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Whisper Suspends Some Editorial Staff Following Guardian Report

Whisper is conducting an internal investigation to see who shared what with the Guardian.

Nellie Bowles

Anonymous messaging app Whisper has suspended some members of its editorial staff in the wake of a troubling article from the Guardian that reported how the startup tracks users’ location data without their permission.

CEO Michael Heyward announced the move in a statement Friday afternoon, and says his startup is conducting an internal investigation to determine what information was shared with reporters from the Guardian. Heyward argued that the Guardian’s reporting is “highly misleading or just plain wrong.”

The Guardian was an editorial partner of the startup and had visited Whisper headquarters to explore the possibility of an expanded partnership. It was during this visit, which included meetings with editor-in-chief Neetzan Zimmerman, that the Guardian uncovered information used in its story. Sources familiar with the matter have confirmed to Re/code that Zimmerman is part of the group on leave.

The suspensions came just a day after Senator Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee, demanded a briefing from the company about its privacy practices.

Heyward’s Friday statement was a response to another Guardian article outlining questions Whisper should answer for the Senate committee.

Whisper’s other media partners, including the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and Fusion, all started to distance themselves from the startup not long after the Guardian story broke.

Update: Includes news that Zimmerman is on leave.

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