Leaked documents reveal the special rules Facebook uses for 5.8M VIPs

Close-up photograph of a man in a suit looking concerned.

Enlarge / Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Facebook had a problem on its hands. People were making posts that got caught in the company’s automated moderation system or were taken down by its human moderators. The problem wasn’t that the moderators, human or otherwise, were wrong to take down the posts. No, the problem was that the people behind the posts were famous or noteworthy, and the company didn’t want a PR mess on its hands.

So Facebook came up with a program called XCheck, or cross check, which in many instances became a de facto whitelist. Over the years, XCheck has allowed celebrities, politicians, athletes, activists, journalists, and even the owners of “animal influencers” like “Doug the Pug” to post whatever they want, with few to no consequences for violating the company’s rules.

“For a select few members of our community, we are not enforcing our policies and standards,” reads an internal Facebook report published as part of a Wall Street Journal investigation. “Unlike the rest of our community, these people can violate our standards without any consequences.”

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