Meta oversight board wants changes to VIP moderation system

LONDON — An internal system that exempts high-profile users, including former US President Donald Trump, from some or all of its content moderation rules, needs a major overhaul, the semi-independent supervisory board of Facebook parent company Meta said on Tuesday.

The report, prepared by the Oversight Board and produced for more than a year, said the system was “flawed in key areas that the company needed to address”.

The board opened its review after The Wall Street Journal reported last year that it was harassed by many of its select users who posted material that would result in penalties for ordinary people, including harassment and incitement to violence.

According to the Journal article, Facebook’s rules, which says the system has at least 5.8 million exempt users as of 2020, don’t apply to some VIP users, while others are facing scrutiny for rule-breaking posts that never happened.

The Oversight Board’s report said the system, known as “XCheck” or cross-checking, has resulted in unequal treatment of users and delays in removing content that violates the rules. He found that, on average, decisions took five days.

Among its 32 recommendations, the board said Meta “should prioritize statements that are important to human rights, including statements of particular public importance”.

The report said users “likely to make such statements” should be given higher priority than other users on the cross-checklist because they are partners.

“If users included because of their commercial importance frequently post infringing content, they can no longer enjoy special protection,” the board said.

Addressing other flaws, the board urged Meta to remove or hide content while under review, and said the company needed to “radically increase cross-checking and transparency about how it works”, such as outlining “clear, general criteria.” be on the list

Meta’s global vice president of public affairs, Nick Clegg, tweeted that the company has requested a review “so we can continue our work to improve the program.”

“We agreed to respond within 90 days,” he added, to fully implement the board’s recommendations.

The board upheld the decision to ban Trump over concerns that Facebook was inciting violence that sparked rioting at the US Capitol last year. But he said the company did not mention the cross-checking system in the decision request.

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