Meta oversight board urges changes to VIP moderation system

Dec 6, 2022, 6:14 AM | Updated: Dec 7, 2022, 7:27 pm
FILE - Facebook's Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on, Oct...

FILE - Facebook's Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on, Oct. 28, 2021. Facebook parent Meta's quasi-independent oversight board said Tuesday, Dev. 6, 2022 that an internal system that exempted high-profile users including former President Donald Trump from some or all of its content rules needs a major overhaul. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)

(AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)

LONDON (AP) — Facebook parent Meta’s quasi-independent oversight board said Tuesday that an internal system that exempted high-profile users, including former U.S. President Donald Trump, from some or all of its content moderation rules needs a major overhaul.

The report by the Oversight Board, which was more than a year in the making, said the system “is flawed in key areas which the company must address.”

Meta asked the board to look into the system after The Wall Street Journal reported last year that it was being abused by many of its elite users, who were posting material that would result in penalties for ordinary people, including for harassment and incitement of violence.

Facebook’s rules reportedly didn’t seem to apply to some VIP users while others faced reviews of rule-breaking posts that never happened, according to the Journal article, which said the system had at least 5.8 million exempted users as of 2020.

The system — known as “XCheck,” or cross-check — was exposed in Facebook documents leaked by Frances Haugen, a former product manager turned whistleblower who captured worldwide headlines with revelations alleging that the social media company prioritized profits over online safety and galvanized regulators into cracking down on hate speech and misinformation.

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

To fully address the board’s recommendations, “we’ve agreed to respond within 90 days,” he added.

The company has said cross-check, which applies to Facebook and Instagram, was designed to prevent “overpolicing,” or mistakenly removing content thought to be breaking the platform’s rules.

The Oversight Board’s report said that the cross-check system resulted in users being treated unequally and that it led to delays in taking down content that violated the rules because there were up to five separate checks. Decisions on average took more than five days, it found.

For content posted by American users, the average decision took 12 days, and for Afghanistan and Syria, it was 17 days. In some cases, it took a lot longer: one piece of content waited 222 days — more than seven months — for a decision, the report said, without providing further details.

Among its 32 recommendations, the board said Meta “should prioritize expression that is important for human rights, including expression which is of special public importance.”

Human rights defenders, advocates for marginalized communities, public officials and journalists should be given higher priority than others put on the cross-check list because they are business partners, such as big companies, political parties, musicians, celebrities and artists, the report said.

“If users included due to their commercial importance frequently post violating content, they should no longer benefit from special protection,” the board said.

Addressing other flaws, the board also urged Meta to remove or hide content while it’s being reviewed and said the company should “radically increase transparency around cross-check and how it operates,” such as outlining “clear, public criteria” on who gets to be on the list.

The board upheld Facebook’s decision to ban Trump last year out of concern he incited violence leading to the riot on the U.S. Capitol. But it said the company failed to mention the cross-check system in its request for a ruling. The company has until Jan. 7 to decide whether to let Trump back on.

Clegg said in a blog post that Meta has already been making changes to cross-check, including standardizing it so that it’s “run in a more consistent way,” opening up the system to content from all 3 billion Facebook users and holding annual reviews to verify its list of elite users and entities.

After widespread criticism that it failed to respond swiftly and effectively to misinformation, hate speech and harmful influence campaigns, Facebook set up the oversight panel as the ultimate referee of thorny content issues it faces. Members include a former Danish prime minister, the former editor-in-chief of British newspaper the Guardian, as well as legal scholars and human rights experts.

Some critics have previously questioned the board’s independence and said its narrow content decisions seemed to distract from wider problems within Facebook and concerns about government regulation.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Sri Lankan president Ranil Wickremesinghe, left, arrives at the parliament to deliver his policy sp...
Associated Press

Sri Lankan leader appeals for patience amid economic crisis

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s president on Wednesday appealed for patience amid the country’s worst economic crisis but promised brighter times ahead. President Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a policy speech after inaugurating a new parliamentary session that he had been forced to make unpopular decisions to salvage the country’s finances, including by implementing […]
3 hours ago
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses a media conference after the EU-Ukraine summit in...
Associated Press

Zelenskyy to visit UK for first time since Russia’s invasion

LONDON (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will visit Britain on Wednesday, his first trip to the U.K. since Russia’s invasion began nearly a year ago and only his second confirmed journey outside Ukraine during the war. The British government says Zelenskyy will hold talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, address Parliament and meet with […]
3 hours ago
Currency traders pass by the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left, a...
Associated Press

Asian shares mixed after Wall St gains on Fed chair comments

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mixed in Asia on Wednesday after stocks rallied on Wall Street following comments by the chair of the Federal Reserve signaling that last week’s stunningly strong jobs report won’t by itself sway its stance on interest rates hikes. Hong Kong, Sydney and Seoul rose while Tokyo and Shanghai declined. U.S. […]
3 hours ago
Characters from The Simpsons pose before the premiere of "The Simpsons Movie", Springfield, Vermont...
Associated Press

Disney cuts Simpsons ‘forced labor’ episode in Hong Kong

HONG KONG (AP) — Walt Disney Co. has removed an episode from cartoon series The Simpsons that included a reference to “forced labor camps” in China from its streaming service in Hong Kong. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment about why the episode, “One Angry Lisa” from The Simpsons’ 34th […]
3 hours ago
FILE - In this Dec. 1, 2020, file photo, the Olympic rings are reinstalled after it was taken down ...
Associated Press

Tokyo Olympic official, 3 others held in bid-rigging probe

TOKYO (AP) — A senior official with the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee and three company executives were arrested Wednesday in an ongoing bid-rigging scandal related to the Games. Yasuo Mori, the Olympic official, was arrested along with Koji Henmi, who headed the sports division at Japanese advertising giant Dentsu. Two other business executives were also […]
3 hours ago
FILE - Power grid stand against the residential and office buildings in Beijing as the capital of C...
Associated Press

IEA: Asia set to use half of world’s electricity by 2025

BERLIN (AP) — Asia will for the first time use half of the world’s electricity by 2025, even as Africa continues to consume far less than its share of the global population, according to a new forecast released Wednesday by the International Energy Agency. Much of Asia’s electricity use will be in China, a nation […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
Meta oversight board urges changes to VIP moderation system