Facebook Kept Oversight Board in Dark about Special Treatment of VIP Accounts

Facebook’s quasi-independent oversight board criticized the company Thursday, saying many high-profile accounts such as celebrities and politicians are not held to the same standards as other accounts.

In a blog post, the board said, “Facebook has not been fully forthcoming with the Board on its ‘Cross-Check’ system, which the company uses to review content decisions relating to high-profile users.”

The Wall Street Journal had previously reported about the company’s double standards, and that 5.8 million accounts fell under the Cross-Check system.

“At times, the documents show, [Cross-Check] has protected public figures whose posts contain harassment or incitement to violence, violations that would typically lead to sanctions for regular users,” the Journal reported.

Facebook spokesman Andy Stone told the Journal that Cross-Check “was designed for an important reason: to create an additional step so we can accurately enforce policies on content that could require more understanding.”

The board said Facebook kept it in the dark about the existence of Cross-Check.

“When Facebook referred the case related to former U.S. President Trump to the Board, it did not mention the cross-check system,” the board wrote. “Given that the referral included a specific policy question about account-level enforcement for political leaders, many of whom the Board believes were covered by cross-check, this omission is not acceptable.”

“Facebook only mentioned cross-check to the Board when we asked whether Mr. Trump’s page or account had been subject to ordinary content moderation processes.”

The board urged Facebook to provide greater transparency.

The board was created last October after the company faced criticism it was not quickly and effectively dealing with what some feel is problematic content.

Decisions by the board are binding and cannot be overturned. 

 

Some information in this report comes from Reuters.


       SJ

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