Facebook's Oversight Board asks for public comment on review of cross-check program

Facebook’s quasi-independent Oversight Board is asking the public to weigh in with comments on the social media platform’s cross-check program for some high profile users.

The Oversight Board opened up public comments on Wednesday as part of its probe into the cross-check system, which reportedly kept certain public figures on the platform, including former President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll We must do more to protect American Jews 6 in 10 say they would back someone other than Biden in 2024: Fox News poll MORE, from facing the full extent of Facebook’s content moderation policies.

The board is asking individuals and organizations to submit comments regarding whether a cross-check system is needed and whether it strengthens or undermines the protection of human rights. The board is also asking for comment as to what additional resources Meta, Facebook’s parent company, should dedicate to improving the cross-check system. 

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Public comments are due by Jan. 14. 

In October, the Oversight Board said Facebook had “not been fully forthcoming on cross-check” and accused the company of failing to provide “relevant” or complete information. 

The board highlighted concerns about the company apparently withholding information when sending the board the high-profile case related to the suspension of Trump’s account. 

Scrutiny of the cross-check system was amplified after The Wall Street Journal in September revealed information about Facebook’s use of the system when reviewing content decisions for high-profile users as part of a series of reports based on leaked internal company documents. 

The Journal reported that the system included at least 5.8 million users in 2020 and had at times allegedly protected public figures who made posts containing harassment or incitement of violence. 

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After the report was published, Facebook requested the Oversight Board form a policy advisory opinion to review the cross-check system and recommend changes.

“We know the system isn’t perfect. We have new teams and resources in place, and we are continuing to make improvements. But more are needed. The Oversight Board’s recommendations will be a big part of this continued work,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs said in September, when the company requested the board’s guidance. 

Regardless of the Oversight Board’s ultimate advisory decision, Facebook does not have to make any changes to the policy. Unlike its content moderation decisions, the Oversight Board’s policy advisories are not binding.