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Facebook's Invisible Elite Rules Highlight Zuckerberg's Blatant Lies

Facebook's XCheck gives millions of celebrities, politicians and other high-profile users special treatment (but not Trump), a privilege many abuse.
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No Consequences For the Elite

Equal Footing Lie

I have little use for Facebook. I don't trust it and never did. Today the WSJ has an article on Facebook that is hardly surprising. 

Please note Facebook Says Its Rules Apply to All. Company Documents Reveal a Secret Elite That’s Exempt.

Mark Zuckerberg has publicly said Facebook Inc. allows its more than three billion users to speak on equal footing with the elites of politics, culture and journalism, and that its standards of behavior apply to everyone, no matter their status or fame.

In private, the company has built a system that has exempted high-profile users from some or all of its rules, according to company documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The program, known as “cross check” or “XCheck,” was initially intended as a quality-control measure for actions taken against high-profile accounts, including celebrities, politicians and journalists. Today, it shields millions of VIP users from the company’s normal enforcement process, the documents show. Some users are “whitelisted”—rendered immune from enforcement actions—while others are allowed to post rule-violating material pending Facebook employee reviews that often never come.

In 2019, it allowed international soccer star Neymar to show nude photos of a woman, who had accused him of rape, to tens of millions of his fans before the content was removed by Facebook. Whitelisted accounts shared inflammatory claims that Facebook’s fact checkers deemed false, including that vaccines are deadly, that Hillary Clinton had covered up “pedophile rings,” and that then-President Donald Trump had called all refugees seeking asylum “animals,” according to the documents.

Lies After Lies After Lies

The documents that describe XCheck are part of an extensive array of internal Facebook communications reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. They show that Facebook knows, in acute detail, that its platforms are riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands.

Moreover, the documents show, Facebook often lacks the will or the ability to address them.

At least some of the documents have been turned over to the Securities and Exchange Commission and to Congress by a person seeking federal whistleblower protection, according to people familiar with the matter.

Time and again, the documents show, in the U.S. and overseas, Facebook’s own researchers have identified the platform’s ill effects, in areas including teen mental health, political discourse and human trafficking. Time and again, despite Congressional hearings, its own pledges and numerous media exposés, the company didn’t fix them.

Pervasive Problem

Facebook 1 WSJ
Facebook 2 WSJ

This problem is pervasive, touching almost every area of the company. Whitelists “pose numerous legal, compliance, and legitimacy risks for the company and harm to our community.

The Solution?

The WSJ comments "One potential solution remains off the table: holding high-profile users to the same standards as everyone else."

Lies and Perjury

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Facebook's treatment of Trump raises howls, but It is within bounds of the law for Facebook to have rules and to claim Trump violated them.

It is not within the bounds of the law to lie to Congress.

Please consider False Statements to the Government Can Land You in Jail written in 2010 and the examples are dated.

With the recent indictment of baseball great Roger Clemens, federal perjury and false statement charges are back in the news. While these charges tend to create press attention when they target celebrities—think Martha Stewart and rap star Lil' Kim—they are powerful, and common, tools that federal prosecutors also use against ordinary individuals every day. And while these tactics may be common, the penalties are serious: a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, for either charge.

Perjury vs. False Statement

You probably already know what perjury is—lying under oath. For example, if you lie to a grand jury, the Securities and Exchange Commission or any other federal or state agency about an important fact while giving testimony under oath, that's perjury. If you lie to an FBI agent or other government agent who has knocked on your door, or when you sign a document making a certification you know is false, you haven't committed perjury because you weren't under oath. But you may have violated the federal law prohibiting making false statements, and the penalties are just as severe. 

Consequences of Lies and Perjury

There should be consequences to lies and perjury. 

If Zuckerberg lied to Congress, and I believe he repeatedly did, the way to stop the lies is to hold CEOs accountable. 

Fine Zuckerberg $250,000 (that won't matter at all to him), and send him to prison for 5 years (that will).

Then we can address rules and how to enforce them. 

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