Facebook Cross-check/XCheck VIP whitelisting

Released: TBC

Cross-check (or 'XCheck') is a system run by Facebook that double checks the posts of over 5 million 'VIP' users, including Donald Trump, Elizabeth Warren, and Brazilian footballer Neymar.

According to Meta VP Nick Clegg, the cross-check system aims to prevent potential over-enforcement ('when we take action on content or accounts that don’t actually violate our policies') and to double-check cases where there could be a higher risk for a mistake or when the potential impact of a mistake is especially severe.

Operator: Meta/Facebook
Developer: Meta/Facebook
Country: USA
Sector: Technology
Purpose: Moderate content
Technology: Content moderation system
Issue: Ethics/values; Fairness; Human/civil rights; Safety
Transparency: Governance; Complaints/appeals; Marketing

Risks and harms 🛑

XCheck has been criticised for the unequal enforcement of rules and delayed moderation, with unsafe and dangerous posts by VIP remianing on Meta platforms longer than for others, as well as for prioritising commercial interests over human rights and ethics.

Transparency 🙈

A confidential 2019 internal review of Facebook’s whitelisting practices discovered by the WSJ investigation said 'We are not actually doing what we say we do publicly', and goes on call cross-check 'a breach of trust'.

According to the Oversight Board, 'Meta has repeatedly told the board and the public that the same set of policies apply to all users. Such statements and the public-facing content policies are misleading.' 

'Meta does not inform users that they are on cross-check lists and does not publicly share its procedures for creating and auditing these lists. It is unclear, for example, whether entities that continuously post violating content are kept on cross-check lists based on their profile. This lack of transparency impedes the Board and the public from understanding the full consequences of the programme', the board observed.

It recommended that Meta 'radically increase transparency around cross-check and how it operates. Meta should measure, audit and publish key metrics around its cross-check programme so that it can tell whether the programme is working effectively.'

In March 2023, Meta agreed to the Oversight Board's recommendation to publish regular Transparency Reports on Cross-check and to limit the distribution of content from high-profile individuals that likely violated platform rules until their posts had been adjudicated. 

Page info
Type: System
Published: September 2021
Last updated: June 2024