Critical observers of Facebook have long suspected the social network of giving celebrities privilege to moderate their comments.
The Wall Street Journal provides proof of this in a lengthy investigation published on Monday.
The latter arose from internal documents sent to the newspaper by a whistleblower, who also contacted the US Congress and stock market authorities.
Other articles related to these documents will be published shortly by the economic journal.
Mistakenly moderating a personality's Facebook and Instagram accounts is not good for the group's image.
In order to avoid “
”, Facebook created the Cross Check program several years ago.
The accounts benefiting from it do not have their publications moderated by artificial intelligences.
Their potentially problematic writings are checked by human moderators, who decide whether or not there will be a sanction - removal of the post, suspension of the account, etc.
According to the WSJ, 5.8 million people from the worlds of culture, politics, media, sport and influence are part of this program, often without their knowledge.
Many of the group's employees have the power to add names to this list, without any real control.
Facebook spoke publicly about Cross Check as early as 2018. “
It's not a two tier system;
it's an attempt to guard against errors,
”explains its communications director Andy Stone on Twitter.
Adding a layer of verification for sensitive cases makes sense, and does not mean that we create exceptions to the rules,
" adds Guy Rosen, vice president in charge of integrity.
We have been talking about this subject for years, there is nothing new contrary to what the Wall Street Journal wants to believe.
"We do the opposite of what we proclaim"
But the American daily points to a major problem: for lack of sufficient human resources, almost all problematic content written by celebrities around the world is not verified by moderators, and therefore remains online. It can be calls for harassment, hate speech, disinformation or conspiracy ... "
We check less than 10% of this content
", indicates an internal audit dating from 2019 obtained by the
Wall Street Journal
. Facebook says this rate increased in 2020, without providing any figures.
Unlike the rest of our community, these people can violate our rules without consequences,
” deplores this internal report. This is "
a breach of trust
" which is "
not publicly defensible
We are doing the opposite of what we claim,
" the confidential document continues, referring to a 2018 text claiming that "
we remove all content that violates our rules, no matter who posts it
If they decide to act against an influential account, moderators are sometimes forced to get the go-ahead from public relations.
The hottest files can be traced back to Sheryl Sandberg or Mark Zuckerberg himself - this was the case in 2020 with some publications by Donald Trump, who was part of the Cross Check program.
Reduced penalty against Neymar
While the moderator checks if he has the right to act, the problematic content remains online.
Posts deleted by Cross Check in 2020 had time to be viewed 16.4 billion times, according to an internal report.
Wall Street Journal
takes an example from footballer Neymar.
In 2019, a young woman accused him of rape. The Brazilian star defends herself on Instagram by posting photos of the complainant naked. This type of publication, likened by Instagram to "
", is severely sanctioned by the platform: the perpetrator has his account suspended. In Neymar's case, the decision was lighter. Only the photos were deleted, more than 24 hours after their publication. In the meantime, they have been seen by 56 million people.
The defects of the Cross Check program are known internally and have been the subject of audits and alerts.
The group had set itself the goal of not letting the most serious breaches of its regulations pass by the end of the first half of 2021. But this goal comes up against the fact that the list of beneficiaries of Cross Check continues to grow. - tens of thousands of new names in 2020.
The Supervisory Board not informed
Another problematic aspect: Facebook refuses to be fully transparent on Cross Check towards its Supervisory Board, an organization that it has set up to control and if necessary cancel certain moderation decisions of the group. "
The Council has repeatedly expressed its concerns about the lack of transparency of Facebook, in particular as regards the management of influential accounts
," he wrote in a statement.
The Supervisory Board can only show concern. He has no power or authority, because Facebook thought of it as such,
”tackle the activists of the True Supervisory Board of Facebook. The
Wall Street Journal
is yet another example of Facebook's inability to moderate its platform responsibly