Former President Donald Trump has attacked Facebook for “secretly protecting its “elite” users after a recent report uncovered a program that allows celebrities and powerful people to circumvent the social network’s own rules.
Trump, who was banned from the social network earlier this year, labeled Facebook “corrupt” for protecting celebrities and VIPs from its rules — though the list of elite users includes his son Donald Trump Jr.
The list also includes Brazilian soccer star Neymar, Senator Elizabeth Warren, model Sunnaya Nash, and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself.
Through a system called “cross check” or “XCheck,” 5.8 million VIP users on Facebook are exempted from some or all of the site’s policies, according to the scathing new report published Monday by The Wall Street Journal.
According to the report, the program was initially designed to protect the company from bad publicity in the event that it moderated content from some of its more high-profile users.
Instead, critics say it has shielded those same users from the rules that govern the general public.
Former President Donald Trump is attacking Facebook for “secretly protecting its so-called “elite” after a recent report uncovered a group of 5.8 million users trying to circumvent the social network’s own rules
While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that the platform holds all users accountable for breaking the rules and regulations, Monday’s report tells a different story.
Trump, who is suing the platform after it banned him permanently after the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, called Facebook hypocritical.
“So now a major Wall Street Journal article has found that Facebook is secretly protecting its so-called ‘Elite’, exempting them from rules,” Trump said in a statement. “Facebook and Big Tech are so corrupt (‘unlocked boxes’, etc.), this should help my lawsuit against Big Tech, and those people who hate America.”
While Zuckerberg stated that the platform holds all users accountable for breaking the rules and regulations, Monday’s report tells a different story.
The XCheck system, for example, allowed international football star Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior to publish a post containing a nude photo and the name of a woman who accused him of rape.
Following the post, Neymar’s account was “whitelisted,” preventing moderators from deleting the post.
Facebook’s policy requires users who post unauthorized nude photos to have their accounts deleted automatically. Instead, Neymar was allowed to keep his account after a review.
Neymar has denied the rape allegation and accused the woman of attempting to extort him. No charges have been filed.
Thanks to the ‘XCheck’ system, international football star Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior was able to publish a message with a nude photo and the name of a woman who accused him of rape.
Najila Trindade Mendes de Souza, accused Neymar of rape and assault at a Paris hotel in 2019. Neymar, who was never charged, has denied the charge
The woman who made the accusation was accused by Brazilian authorities of defamation, extortion and fraud. The first two charges were dropped and she was acquitted of the third.
In June 2020, while Trump was still president, he published a message that read “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
An automated system determined that the message most likely violated platform rules, usually requiring it to be deleted after one person reported the message. But because of the XCheck program, Trump’s post remained online, and Zuckerberg later revealed that he had decided not to delete it.
Until his suspension earlier this year, Trump was part of the XCheck system.
Senator Elizabeth Warren is one of the VIPs protected by the program, according to The Wall Street Journal
In 2019, Facebook knew this practice was not “publicly defensible,” the report revealed, citing an internal review of the whitelisted practices.
“We don’t really do what we say we do in public,” read the review, which called Facebook’s actions “a breach of trust.”
“Unlike the rest of our community, these people can break our standards without consequences.”
In 2020, XCheck included at least 5.8 million highly profiled users, including Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Candace Owens, Zuckerberg and Doug the Pug.
Last year, “XCheck” allowed posts that violated Facebook’s guidelines to be viewed at least 16.4 billion times before finally being removed, according to a document obtained by the Journal.
Speaking to the WSJ, Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said the system was “designed for an important reason: to go the extra mile so that we can enforce accurate policies regarding content that requires greater understanding.” .
Stone said the company is in the process of phasing out its “whitelisting” policy regarding “XCheck.”
“A lot of this internal material is outdated information stitched together to create a story that obscures the main point: Facebook has identified the issues itself with a cross-check and has been working to address them,” he said.
The Journal interviewed dozens of current and former Facebook employees who say the company is aware of the flaws in its platform and the damage they cause, but is unwilling or unable to fix them.
A person seeking federal whistleblower protection has turned over the documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission and to Congress.