Science & Technology

Facebook’s Oversight Board asks for more transparency in VIP moderation program

Facebook Inc.’s Oversight Board said today that it thinks the public deserves to know more information about how the company’s “cross-check” system works.

After a report by the Wall Street Journal earlier this month, it came to light that Facebook has been giving millions of users a certain kind of immunity when it comes to the company’s regular moderation practices.

Those people, whether politicians, celebrities or high-profile users in general, posted content that bypassed Facebook’s moderation tools and instead went through the cross-check system. Addressing the issue, Facebook noted it has always said it has various “layers” of moderation, although the secrecy of cross-check was criticized by some, including the Oversight Board.

“In light of recent developments, we are looking into the degree to which Facebook has been fully forthcoming in its responses in relation to cross-check, including the practice of whitelisting,” the board said in a blog post today. “We expect to receive a briefing from Facebook in the coming days and will be reporting what we hear from this as part of our first release of quarterly transparency reports, which we will publish in October.”

The board also said that when people such as former president Donald Trump and Senator Elizabeth Warren are or were part of the system, it doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the public when questions are asked if Facebook has any political bias. The board stated that to Facebook’s fault it has shown itself to have “opaque rules,” and although it did explain some matters relating to the cross-check system, it hasn’t expanded on what the criteria are for adding people to it.

“Transparency is essential for social media platforms,” said the board. “The choices made by companies like Facebook have real-world consequences for the freedom of expression and human rights of billions of people across the world.”

In response to criticism over a number of recently exposed issues at Facebook, the company said in a blog post today that it has invested $40 billion in safety and security and has 40,000 people working in that area. The number was 10,000 five years ago, according to Facebook.

Photo: Marco Paköeningrat/Flickr

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