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Facebook Rebuked by Oversight Board Over Transparency on Treatment of Prominent Users


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Facebook created the oversight board to provide guidance about its enforcement systems and make binding decisions about specific enforcement actions.

Credit: Ian Bates/The Wall Street Journal

FacebookInc.'s oversight board said the company hadn't been forthcoming about how it exempts high-profile users from its rules and said it is drafting recommendations for how to overhaul the system, following a Wall Street Journal investigation into the practice.

In a report released Thursday, the oversight board said Facebook had repeatedly failed to turn over, or provided incomplete, information about how it treats content from large numbers of prominent users. It made calls using a separate set of rules—different from those applied to regular users and known internally as "cross-check," or "XCheck." It was also referred to as "whitelisting," the Journal previously reported.

The board, which Facebook created to provide guidance about the company's enforcement systems and make binding decisions about specific enforcement actions, said the company had failed to mention XCheck when it referred its decision to ban former President Donald Trump from the platform to the board this spring. The company only gave limited detail when asked directly about it by the board. Facebook's public disclosures about the program made at the board's recommendation at the time were insufficient, the board said.

"The fact that Facebook provided such an ambiguous, undetailed response to a call for greater transparency is not acceptable," the board wrote in its report.

From The Wall Street Journal
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