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The Meta Oversight Board has published a detailed report that criticizes the cross-check system that is used on Facebook and Instagram. The report calls on Meta to “radically” change the program and make it more transparent.

Before getting into it, you may be wondering why something called the Meta Oversight Board can outwardly criticize a meta service. Well, it’s possible because the Oversight Board is a semi-independent group that ensures Meta and its services (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc.) are acting within standards.

Cross-check is a service that offers special moderation tools for public figures. It provides extra help to high-profile users by reviewing content for them. It uses a human element and also allows these users to essentially override Facebook’s rules.

Report

According to the Oversight Board, the tool has not been properly tracking moderation statistics that would highlight if it is accurate or not.

“While Meta told the board that cross-check aims to advance Meta’s human rights commitments, we found that the program appears more directly structured to satisfy business concerns,” the report says. “The board understands that Meta is a business, but by providing extra protection to certain users selected largely according to business interests, cross-check allows content which would otherwise be removed quickly to remain up for a longer period, potentially causing harm.”

Meta and the Oversight Board have reportedly been engaging in dialogue, including review thousands of internal documents.

“It’s a small part of what Meta does, but I think that by spending this amount of time and looking into this [much] detail, it exposed something that’s a bit more systemic within the company,” Oversight Board member Alan Rusbridger tells The Verge.

“I sincerely believe that there are a lot of people at Meta who do believe in the values of free speech and the values of protecting journalism and protecting people working in civil society. But the program that they had crafted wasn’t doing those things. It was protecting a limited number of people who didn’t even know that they were on the list.”

Meta now has 90 days to respond to the recommendations made in the report.

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