Report: Facebook Exempts ‘Whitelisted’ Elite Users from Platform Rules

Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill April 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the second day of testimony before Congress by Zuckerberg, 33, after it was reported that 87 …
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Facebook maintains a whitelist of elite users that are subject to less stringent rules than others using the platform, according to leaked materials provided to the Wall Street Journal

Despite the company claiming in public that its rules apply equally to all users, the Journal reports that a set of privileged users including journalists, politicians, and celebrities are allowed to post rule-violating material “pending Facebook employee reviews that never come,” while others are “whitelisted” — immune from Facebook enforcement actions altogether.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is applauded as he delivers the opening keynote introducing new Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram privacy features at the Facebook F8 Conference at McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California on April 30, 2019. – Got a crush on another Facebook user? The social network will help you connect, as part of a revamp unveiled Tuesday that aims to foster real-world relationships and make the platform a more intimate place for small groups of friends. (Photo by Amy Osborne / AFP)

The program is reportedly known internally as Crosscheck, or “XCheck.” According to the documents obtained by the Journal, it includes at least 5.8 million users, including “most government officials” — but, frequently, not the challengers to their incumbent status.

Via the Wall Street Journal:

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. 

Despite attempts to rein it in, XCheck grew to include at least 5.8 million users in 2020, documents show. In its struggle to accurately moderate a torrent of content and avoid negative attention, Facebook created invisible elite tiers within the social network.

While the program included most government officials, it didn’t include all candidates for public office, at times effectively granting incumbents in elections an advantage over challengers. The discrepancy was most prevalent in state and local races, the documents show, and employees worried Facebook could be subject to accusations of favoritism.

In a comment to the Journal, Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said that in both federal and nonfederal races, the company made an effort to ensure that “challengers as well as incumbents were included in the program.” Yet Facebook has banned numerous high-profile political candidates, including Laura Loomer in the U.S. and Tommy Robinson in the UK.

While acknowledging that criticism of XCheck was fair, Stone said the system “was designed for an important reason: to create an additional step so we can accurately enforce policies on content that could require more understanding.”

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.

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