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Facebook exempts secret ‘whitelisted’ elite from its rules and allows them to post banned content

Facebook has a secret program in place that allows celebrities and powerful people to skirt the social network’s own rules, according to a bombshell report.

The Silicon Valley giant’s program, called ‘XCheck’ or ‘cross check,’ created a so-called ‘whitelist’ of celebrities who are immune from enforcement, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The list of protected celebrities and VIPs include Brazilian soccer star Neymar; former President Donald Trump; his son, Donald Trump Jr; Senator Elizabeth Warren; model Sunnaya Nash; and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself.

The program has been in place since at least 2019 – well before Trump was banned from the platform after he was accused of fomenting the January 6 riot at the US Capitol. 

The Journal relied on internal documents provided to it by employees of the company who say that the program shields celebrities from enforcement actions that are meted out against the platform’s more than 3 billion other users.

If a VIP is believed to have violated the rules, their posts aren’t removed immediately but are instead sent to a separate system staffed by better-trained employees who then further review the content.

Facebook has a secret program in place that allows celebrities and powerful people to skirt the social network’s own rules, according to a bombshell report

‘XCheck’ allowed international soccer star Neymar to post nude photos of a woman who had accused him of rape in 2019. The images were deleted by Facebook after a whole day, allowing them to be seen by Neymar’s tens of millions of his followers.

While Facebook’s standard procedure calls for deleting ‘nonconsensual intimate imagery’ as well as deleting the account.

But Neymar’s nude photos of the woman were allowed to remain for a full day and his account was not deactivated.

An internal review by Facebook described the content as ‘revenge porn’ by Neymar.

‘This included the video being reposted more than 6,000 times, bullying and harassment about her character,’ the review found.

Neymar has denied the rape allegation and accused the woman of attempting to extort him. No charges have been filed.

The woman who made the allegation was charged with slander, extortion, and fraud by Brazilian authorities. The first two charges were dropped, and she was acquitted of the third.

‘XCheck’ allowed international soccer star Neymar (seen above in Brazil on September 9) to post nude photos of a woman who had accused him of rape in 2019. The images were deleted by Facebook after a whole day, allowing them to be seen by Neymar’s tens of millions of his followers

‘XCheck’ allowed international soccer star Neymar (seen above in Brazil on September 9) to post nude photos of a woman who had accused him of rape in 2019. The images were deleted by Facebook after a whole day, allowing them to be seen by Neymar’s tens of millions of his followers

Najila Trindade Mendes de Souza, accused Neymar of rape and sexual assault at a Paris hotel in 2019. Neymar, who was never charged, has denied the allegation

Najila Trindade Mendes de Souza, accused Neymar of rape and sexual assault at a Paris hotel in 2019. Neymar, who was never charged, has denied the allegation

The Journal cites an internal review which acknowledges: ‘We are not actually doing what we say we do publicly.’

‘Unlike the rest of our community, these people can violate our standards without any consequences,’ according to the internal review cited by the Journal.

A spokesperson for Facebook told the Journal that the program ‘was designed for an important reason: to create an additional step so we can accurately enforce policies on content that could require more understanding.’

The spokesperson, Andy Stone, said the company is in the process of phasing out its’ whitelisting’ policies as it relates to ‘XCheck.’

‘A lot of this internal material is outdated information stitched together to create a narrative that glosses over the most important point: Facebook itself identified the issues with 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 on its platform and the harm they cause but is either unwilling or unable to address them.

One person who is seeking federal whistleblower protection has turned over the documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission as well as to Congress.

Facebook’s own internal reviewers know that the platform has been used for illicit activity between Mexican drug cartels as well as for human trafficking.

The company is also aware of the effect that the social network has on teens’ mental health, according to the Journal.

But Facebook did not move to address those issues for fear that it would hurt its bottom line, according to the Journal. 


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