Another week, another example of Facebook not taking responsibility.
At the Wall Street Journal Jeff Horwitz writes Facebook Says Its Rules Apply to All. Company Documents Reveal a Secret Elite That’s Exempt. The story is behind a paywall.
His second deck reads:
A program known as XCheck has given millions of celebrities, politicians and other high-profile users special treatment, a privilege many abuse.
Let me XCheck that…
He says XCheck started life as a quality control measure for high-profile accounts. This would cover celebrities, politicians and journalists.
“Today, it shields millions of VIP users from the company’s normal enforcement process, the documents show. Some users are “whitelisted”—rendered immune from enforcement actions—while others are allowed to post rule-violating material pending Facebook employee reviews that often never come.”
In other words there is one set of rules for everyday users and another set for the privileged.
And those rules are more different than you might imagine:
“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.
“Whitelisted accounts shared inflammatory claims that Facebook’s fact checkers deemed false, including that vaccines are deadly, that Hillary Clinton had covered up “pedophile rings,” and that then-President Donald Trump had called all refugees seeking asylum “animals,” according to the documents.”
This is not good for society, not good for politics.
“A 2019 internal review of Facebook’s whitelisting practices, marked attorney-client privileged, found favoritism to those users to be both widespread and “not publicly defensible.”
“We are not actually doing what we say we do publicly,” said the confidential review. It called the company’s actions “a breach of trust”. It added: “Unlike the rest of our community, these people can violate our standards without any consequences.”
The problem with Facebook is that its reach and influence means nonsense that might otherwise go unnoticed crashes into the public domain where it can do maximum damage.
The most benign interpretation is that this is all done to trigger more clicks and sell more toothpaste or harmful sugary drink.
Writing about Facebook’s continual bad faith and unpleasantness is tiring.