Meta Oversight Board urges VIP “cross-check” reform

On Tuesday, Meta Platforms’ Oversight Board advised the company to change its policy of exempting high-profile users, saying it favored the powerful and allowed economic interests to influence content.

Cross-check gives millions of celebrities, politicians, and other influential people greater flexibility to post stuff violating Facebook and Instagram regulations.

In a statement announcing the decision, Oversight Board director Thomas Hughes said Cross-check “prioritises users of financial importance to Meta and as constructed does not meet Meta’s human rights responsibilities and business values.”

After whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal corporate documents to the Wall Street Journal, the board began evaluating the cross-check program.

Those records showed that Meta had misled the Oversight Board, which is paid by the corporation through a trust and operated independently. The program was broader and more forgiving of influential users.

Cross-check expanded to encompass practically anyone with a large online following without eligibility or governance constraints. However, even with millions of members, it is a tiny fraction of Meta’s 3.7 billion users.

According to the WSJ, the mechanism prevented Meta moderators from eliminating Neymar’s nude images of a lady, which violated Meta’s “nonconsensual intimate imagery” policy in 2019.

The board chastised Meta for not disclosing cross-check “completely” in the report.

Given the massive amount of user-generated content Meta moderates daily, the board agreed in its Tuesday opinion that Meta needed ways to correct enforcement errors.

However, Meta “has a responsibility to address these wider challenges in ways that benefit all users and not just a select few.”

Transparency, system audits, and a more methodical eligibility mechanism were among its 32 proposals to make the program more equitable.

It said state actors should be eligible for the program based only on publicly known criteria, without special advantages.

Meta must react within 60 days to the Oversight Board’s non-binding policy recommendations.

The Oversight Board spokesman said the corporation requested and granted an extension, giving it 90 days to reply.