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- “A lot of this internal material is outdated information stitched together to create a narrative that glosses over the most important point: Facebook itself identified the issues with cross check and has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