Is Facebook not treating everyone equally? Is Facebook biased towards high-profile users? Well, the reports say so!
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is the world’s largest social media company, with about 2.9 billion monthly active users. The social media company has created Community Standards for all of its users across the world, regardless of status or fame, to understand what is and isn’t allowed on the platform. However, Facebook has allegedly built a system that secretly exempts high-profile users from such screening, as per the company’s documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.
Facebook XCheck (Cross Check) program was launched to double-check specific Pages or Profiles to ensure that the company’s policies were being followed correctly. This typically applies to high-profile accounts, such as celebrities, politicians, and journalists, as well as frequently visited pages or content on Facebook to ensure that they are not mistakenly removed or left up. Facebook cross-checked many media organizations’ pages from Channel 4 to The BBC and The Verge.
However, XCheck program currently shields millions of VIP users from the company’s normal enforcement process. Some users are “whitelisted,” which means they are immune from enforcement actions, while others are permitted to post rule-violating content pending Facebook employee reviews, which frequently do not occur.
According to the documents, XCheck has shielded public figures whose posts involve harassment or encouragement to violence, which would normally result in sanctions for regular users. In 2019, it allowed international soccer star Neymar to upload nude images of a woman who had accused him of rape. However, Facebook later took it down.
“For a selected few members of our community, we are not enforcing our policies and standards. Unlike the rest of our community, these people can violate our standards without any consequences”, a 2019 internal review of Facebook’s whitelisted practices, marked attorney-client privileged.
In a struggle to accurately moderate a flood of content while avoiding negative attention, Facebook has created invisible elite tiers within the social network. As of 2020, Facebook XCheck has now approximately 5.8 million users.
Facebook has not only misled the public but also its own Oversight Board, a body established by Facebook to ensure the accountability of the company’s enforcement systems. However, Facebook Communications Director Andy Stone said that the social media company has been accurate in its communications to the board. They have also identified the problems with XCheck and have been working to resolve them. He is also upset with the Wall Street Journal for repeatedly pointing out the issue with Facebook’s Cross Check program as evidence of the need for changes that are already underway at the company.
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