Scandal on Facebook. The social network has used a little-known VIP program for years that has allowed millions of high-profile users to break its rules, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
According to the report, the program, called “XCheck” or “cross check”, it was created to avoid “public relations problems”. This is how the social network calls the public reaction that occurs when Facebook makes a mistake that affects the account of a high-profile user.
The cross-checking program means that if one of these accounts violated their rules, the violation was sent to a separate team so it could be reviewed by Facebook employees, rather than by its moderators who work for third-party companies who often review content that violates the rules.
Facebook allows politicians, artists and VIP athletes (like Neymar) to violate the rules it imposes on other users (Photo by Alex Wong / .)
Facebook had previously disclosed the existence of the cross-checking, which was also reported by other outlets. But as The Wall Street Journal reveals, “Most of the content flagged by the XCheck system did not undergo any further review”. This allowed celebrities, politicians, and other high-level users to break the rules without consequence.
Neymar, one of the famous ‘saved’
In one of the incidents described in the report, Brazilian soccer star Neymar posted photos of a nude woman who had accused him of sexual assault. These types of posts are in violation of Facebook’s rules on non-consensual nudity, and violators are often banned from the platform. But the cross-checking system “prevented Facebook moderators from removing the video”, and the post was seen almost 60 million times before being eliminated. Your account suffered no other consequences.
Just last year, cross-checking enabled content that violated the rules to be viewed more than 16 billion times before being removed, according to internal Facebook documents cited by The Wall Street Journal.
Donald Trump, another of the famous with privileges
The report also says that Facebook “misled” its Supervisory Board, which lobbied the company over its cross-checking system in June, by weighing how the company should handle the “indefinite suspension” of Donald trump. The company then told the board that the system only affected “a small number” of its decisions and that it was “not feasible” to share more data.
“The Oversight Board has repeatedly raised concerns about the lack of transparency in Facebook’s content moderation processes, especially in relation to the company’s inconsistent management of high-profile accounts,” said the Oversight Board. in a statement shared on Twitter. “The Board has repeatedly made recommendations to make Facebook much more transparent overall, even about its management of high-profile accounts, while ensuring that its policies treat all users fairly. “
Facebook told The Wall Street Journal that its report was based on “outdated information” and that the company has been trying to improve the cross-checking system. “Ultimately, at the center of this story is Facebook’s own analysis that we need to improve the program,” wrote Facebook spokesman Andy Stone in a statement. “We know that our application is not perfect and that there are trade-offs between speed and precision.”.
Disclosures could prompt further investigation of Facebook’s content moderation policies. Some of the information related to the cross-checking has been “turned over to the Securities and Exchange Commission and Congress by a person seeking federal whistleblower protection,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
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