Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has been recommended by its own Oversight Board that its system of applying different moderation rules to VIP users risks harming everyday users.
A nearly-50-page advisory from the board stated the process of being more lenient towards better-known users, labeled the “cross-check” system, was designed to “satisfy business concerns.”
The cross-check program first came under scrutiny in November last year when the Wall Street Journal reported that the moderation system shielded VIP users such as celebrities, politicians, journalists and Meta advertisers, from the regular moderating process. According to the Journal, the system allowed VIP users, which numbered around 5.8 million as of 2020, to post rule-breaking content without consequences.
The cross-check system means any posts made by users on the list of so-called VIPs that break Facebook rules are left up pending a review. For regular users, such content is automatically removed.
The Oversight Board said that while Facebook “told the Board that cross-check aims to advance Meta’s human rights commitments, we found that the program appears more directly structured to satisfy business concerns … We also found that Meta has failed to track data on whether cross-check results in more accurate decisions.”
Meta’s Oversight Board is made up of experts in fields such as human rights and freedom of expression. The company itself requested the board’s review in this case, but is under no obligation to take action on any of its recommendations.
“Meta has a responsibility to address its content moderation challenges in ways that benefit all users and not just a select few,” the report said.