Facebook's XCheck system that lets VIPs off the hook despite breaking rules comes under scrutiny

Facebook’s semi-independent oversight board says the company has fallen short of full disclosure on its internal systems that exempt high-profile users from some or all of its content rules.

The board said in a report Thursday that Facebook is “not fully forthcoming” with observers about its “XCheck” or cross-check system. It also said it would review the system and recommend how the social network giant could change it.

The board began investigating the XCheck system last month wall street journal It is reported that many VIP users abuse it, posting content that may sanction ordinary users – including harassment and inciting violence. For some specific users, Facebook’s rules reportedly don’t apply. There were at least 5.8 million exempt users as of last year magazine Article.

Facebook is generally not obligated under the oversight board’s rules to follow its recommendations.

Facebook said in a statement on Thursday, “We believe the Board’s work has been impressive, which is why we have sought input from the Board on our cross-check system, and we try to be clear in their further explanation.” will do.”

The report said Facebook incorrectly failed to mention the XCheck system when it asked the board earlier this year to rule on banning former President Donald Trump’s accounts following the January 6 attack on the Capitol. .

“Facebook only mentioned the board cross-check when we asked whether Mr. Trump’s page or account was subject to normal content-moderation procedures,” the report said.

In May, the board upheld Facebook’s suspension of Trump’s accounts over concerns that they incited the violence that led to the January 6 riots. But overseers asked Facebook to specify how long the suspension would last. Facebook later announced that Trump’s accounts would be suspended for two years, freezing his presence on the social network until early 2023, followed by a reappraisal.

Trump on Wednesday announced the launch of a new media company with his social media platform. He said his goal is to create a rival to the Big Tech companies that have shut him down and deprived him of the megaphone that was paramount in his national rise.

Twitter, which was Trump’s platform of choice, banned him permanently after the January 6 attack.

The oversight board said Thursday that Facebook has agreed to make the company’s internal documents available on the XCheck system for its review. magazine Article. The Facebook documents were leaked to the newspaper by Frances Haugen, a former product manager in the company’s civil integrity unit, who also provided them to Congress and went public this month with far-reaching condemnation of the company.

In a separate blog post, the board said that Haugen has accepted his invitation for a meeting in the coming weeks to “discuss his experiences and gather the information that will help us through our case decisions and recommendations.” can help advance greater transparency and accountability from Facebook.”

Hogen’s allegations of potentially serious harm to some youth from Facebook’s Instagram photo-sharing platform sparked outrage among lawmakers and the public.

The board said in its report that in some cases, “Facebook failed to provide relevant information to the board, while in other cases, the information it provided was incomplete.”

In a briefing to the board, “Facebook acknowledged that it should not have said that (XCheck) only applies to ‘a small number of decisions’,” the report said. “Facebook notes that for teams working on the scale of millions of content decisions a day, the numbers involved … seem relatively low, but recognize that its phrasing can be misleading.”

Facebook created an oversight panel to rule on prickly content issues after widespread criticism over problems with rapidly and effectively responding to campaigns with misinformation, hate speech and harmful influence. The Board’s decisions are in favor of free expression on the restriction of content. Its members include the former Prime Minister of Denmark and the former editor-in-chief of a British newspaper. Guardian, with legal scholars, human rights experts and journalists.

The board’s independence has been questioned by critics, who say it is a Facebook PR campaign intended to draw attention away from the deep problems of hate and misinformation that flourish on its platforms.

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