Facebook allows prominent users to break rules

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.

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  • “A lot of this internal material is outdated information stitched together to create a narrative that glosses over the most important point: Facebook itself identified the issues with cross check and has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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