Facebook reportedly has a double standard allowing millions of its most famous and elite users, including former President Donald Trump, to get away with breaking the social media giant’s content moderation rules.
Under a special program known as “XCheck,” 5.8 million VIP users in 2020, including a number of high-profile celebrities, politicians, and journalists, were granted immunity from Facebook’s enforcement actions and allowed to post rule-violating content that would get normal users banned or censored on the platform, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Trump, for example, was allowed to call refugees seeking asylum “animals,” among other violations, according to internal Facebook documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal. Other VIP users were able to share misinformation, including posts claiming that COVID-19 vaccines are lethal and that Hilary Clinton was involved in hidden “pedophile rings,” that would typically lead to punishments for regular users.
Trump was banned from Facebook earlier this year after his role in the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol but was given a pass for most of his rule-breaking content for years prior thanks to the XCheck program.
Other prominent people protected by the XCheck program include Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s social media czar Dan Scavino, conservative commentator Candace Owens, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“We are not actually doing what we say we do publicly,” an internal and confidential review said. The review called the tech giant’s actions “a breach of trust” and said, “unlike the rest of our community, these people can violate our standards without any consequences.”
Through this secret program for elite users, Facebook misled the public and its own independent Oversight Board regarding its enforcement systems and how it holds users accountable.
Earlier this year, Facebook told the Oversight Board that its special program for VIP users was used in “a small number of decisions,” not for millions.
Facebook has also received much criticism from liberals for allowing dangerous misinformation and disinformation on its platform, while conservatives have blasted the company for unfairly censoring those right-of-center.
Multiple Republican-controlled states have pushed for laws that would require social media companies like Facebook to apply content moderation standards more consistently, regardless of the user or their political affiliation.
Facebook spokesman Andy Stone told the Wall Street Journal that criticism of Facebook’s “XCheck” program is fair, but added that 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.”
He added that Facebook is working to end its practice of allowing VIP users to follow different rules.
“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,” he said.
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Original Author: Nihal Krishan
Original Location: Facebook reportedly bent its own rules for Trump and celebrities