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Facebook whistleblower will brief the Oversight Board on 'cross check' rules for VIPs


Members of the Oversight Board will meet with Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen as it investigates the company’s controversial “cross check” system.

“In light of the serious claims made about Facebook by Ms. Haugen, we have extended an invitation for her to speak to the Board over the coming weeks, which she has accepted,” the Oversight Board wrote in a statement. “Board members appreciate the chance to discuss Ms. Haugen’s experiences and gather information that can help push for greater transparency and accountability from Facebook through our case decisions and recommendations.”

In a statement, Haugen confirmed the upcoming meeting. “Facebook has lied to the board repeatedly, and I am looking forward to sharing the truth with them,” she wrote.

The board has also been pushing Facebook to provide more information about the program, in light of Haugen’s disclosures. “Cross check” is the internal designation used by the social network for high profile accounts, including celebrities, politicians and athletes. The company has said it’s meant to provide an extra level of scrutiny when those accounts might break the platform’s rules. But according to documents Haugen provided to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook often doesn’t review violations from these accounts, effectively allowing them to break its rules without consequences. In other cases, reviews are so delayed that rule-breaking content is viewed millions of times before it’s removed.

Crosscheck was also a central issue in the Oversight Board’s handling of Donald Trump’s Facebook suspension. The board had asked Facebook for more details about cross check, saying that the company’s rules “should apply to all users.” But Facebook said it was “not feasible” to provide additional info, even though Haugen’s disclosures suggested the company has been tracking problems related to the program.

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. The company said last month, following The Wall Street Journal's reporting, that it had asked the board to provide recommendations on how to improve cross check. The Oversight Board will release its first transparency report later this month, which will provide an update on cross check, based on its discussions with Facebook officials and Haugen. The report will be the board’s first assessment of how the social network has responded to its policy recommendations.

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