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The Wall Street Journal: Facebook to review its practice of separate rules for high-profile users

Facebook Inc.’s Oversight Board said it is reviewing the company’s practice of holding high-profile users to separate sets of rules, citing apparent inconsistencies in the way the social-media giant makes decisions.

The inquiry follows an investigation by The Wall Street Journal into the system, known internally as “cross-check” or “XCheck.” The Oversight Board, an outside body that Facebook
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created to ensure the accountability of the company’s enforcement systems, said it has reached out to the company and expects a briefing in coming days.

The XCheck program was initially intended as a quality-control measure for actions taken against high-profile accounts, including celebrities, politicians and journalists. It grew to include millions of accounts, according to documents viewed by the Journal. In addition, some users are “whitelisted,” meaning they were rendered immune from enforcement actions, the documents showed.

A 2019 internal Facebook review found that the practice of whitelisting was “not publicly defensible.” The company had previously told the Oversight Board in writing that its system for high-profile users was only used in “a small number of decisions.”

In a blog post on Tuesday, the board said it was looking into whether Facebook has “been fully forthcoming in its responses in relation to cross-check, including the practice of whitelisting.”

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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