Facebook has often said publicly that all users are treated equally, but it appears that there are some users that are more equal than others.
According to a bombshell report by the Wall Street Journal, millions of Facebook users who are “newsworthy,” “influential or popular,” or “PR risky” don’t have to follow the rules on the platform.
The article was titled, “Facebook Says Its Rules Apply to All. Company Documents Reveal a Secret Elite That’s Exempt.”
Millions of accounts belonging to politicians, celebrities, journalists, and others have been “whitelisted” which allows them to bypass normal enforcement action that the unwashed masses are subject to.
If you’re one of the Facebook VIPs, then you can post things on the platform that would normally violate the private company’s Community Standards. This would normally result in deletion of a post or temporary suspension — commonly referred to as “Facebook Jail.”
It’s the “privilege” of free speech for the rich, famous, and influential, but not for you, peasant!
The program, known as “cross check” or “XCheck,” was initially intended as a quality-control measure for actions taken against high-profile accounts, including celebrities, politicians and journalists. Today, it shields millions of VIP users from the company’s normal enforcement process, the documents show. Some users are “whitelisted”—rendered immune from enforcement actions—while others are allowed to post rule-violating material pending Facebook employee reviews that often never come.
At times, the documents show, XCheck has protected public figures whose posts contain harassment or incitement to violence, violations that would typically lead to sanctions for regular users. In 2019, it allowed international soccer star Neymar to show nude photos of a woman, who had accused him of rape, to tens of millions of his fans before the content was removed by Facebook. Whitelisted accounts shared inflammatory claims that Facebook’s fact checkers deemed false, including that vaccines are deadly, that Hillary Clinton had covered up “pedophile rings,” and that then-President Donald Trump had called all refugees seeking asylum “animals,” according to the documents.
A 2019 internal review of Facebook’s whitelisting practices, marked attorney-client privileged, found favoritism to those users to be both widespread and “not publicly defensible.”
“We are not actually doing what we say we do publicly,” said the confidential review. It called the company’s actions “a breach of trust” and added: “Unlike the rest of our community, these people can violate our standards without any consequences.”
Source: Wall Street Journal
Some Facebook employees are concerned about one set of rules for the “high profile” users and a second set for everyone else. The Wall Street Journal posted three quotes from the confidential review document at the beginning of their article and they were damning.
“We are not actually doing what we say we do publicly.”
“Facebook routinely makes exceptions for powerful actors.”
“This problem is pervasive, touching almost every area of the company.”
“Having different rules on speech for different people is very troubling to me,” wrote an employee in a memo that was viewed by the WSJ. Another employee said Facebook is “influenced by political considerations” when making content moderation decisions.
The hell you say!
One huge problem is that the whitelist keeps growing. As more people are added to the XCheck list, it becomes harder to take action against accounts.
Less than 10% of the content that XCheck flagged to the company as needing attention was reviewed, per a document reported by the paper. Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone told the Journal that the number grew in 2020 but did not provide evidence to support that assertion.
Most Facebook employees have the power to add users to the XCheck system for whitelisting status, a term used to describe high-profile accounts that don’t have to follow the rules. But the Journal viewed a 2019 audit that found Facebook doesn’t always keep a record of who it whitelists and why, which poses “numerous legal, compliance, and legitimacy risks for the company and harm to our community.”
Source: Business Insider
Facebook has pushed back against the WSJ report in a lengthy thread by Policy Communications Manager Andy Stone, a Democrat partisan hack who worked as a staffer for former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and is a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) alumnus. He was the one that announced that Facebook would “reduce the distribution” of the Hunter Biden laptop story on the platform before the 2020 Presidential election.
On Monday, Stone reacted to the WSJ exposé by tweeting that XCheck is simply a “second layer of review to make sure we’ve applied our policies correctly” and that “There aren’t two systems of justice; it’s an attempted safeguard against mistakes.”
He added that the WSJ missed the point that the internal documents that they cited were from 2019 and were centered on “Facebook’s own analysis that we need to improve the program.”
He ended the thread this way, “The WSJ piece repeatedly cites Facebook’s own documents pointing to the need for changes that are in fact already underway at the company. We have new teams, new resources and an overhaul of the process that is an existing work-stream at Facebook.”
Who do you believe — the former(?) Democrat operative that now works at a social media company essentially as their spin doctor, or the Wall Street Journal and their report of the internal documents?