Facebook allows prominent users to break rules

·1 min read

Facebook has long said that it applies the same rules to all posts, but internal documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal paint a picture of a company that allowed millions of politicians, celebrities and other high-profile users to break those rules without consequence.

Why it matters: It's hard to limit misinformation on a platform when you give a free pass to those with the most reach.

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Details: According to the Journal, Facebook's XCheck program, established to make sure that content reviews of posts by high-profile users were handled with extra care, often gave VIPs a free pass to violate the company's rules.

  • Some were "whitelisted" and allowed to post whatever they want.

  • For others, content issues were passed along to a separate team, which often failed to take action or sometimes even follow-up on reports.

  • By 2020, there were 5.8 million accounts included in the program, the Journal said.

Between the lines: A confidential internal review in 2019 found the practice was both widespread and "not publicly defensible," the Journal reported.

The other side: Facebook, for its part, told the Journal that criticism of the system was "fair" but added that the company is phasing out the practice of whitelisting.

  • "A lot of this internal material is outdated information stitched together to create a narrative that glosses over the most important point: Facebook itself identified the issues with cross check and has been working to address them," Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement to the Journal.

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