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'not acceptable'

Facebook Oversight Board says the company must 'urgently improve' its transparency

Facebook's independent Oversight Board is criticizing the company for a lack of transparency, finding it failed to be "fully forthcoming" regarding a policy for high-profile users.

The Facebook Oversight Board, an independent body that reviews Facebook content moderation decisions, released a transparency report on Thursday, which comes as the company faces scrutiny over a whistleblower's critical congressional testimony. The board identified transparency as an area where Facebook is "falling short." After The Wall Street Journal reported that a Facebook "cross-check" system exempts high-profile users from standard moderation rules, the board also said Facebook has "not been fully forthcoming with the board" about this. 

"On some occasions, Facebook failed to provide relevant information to the board, while in other instances, the information it did provide was incomplete," the board said.

For example, the board said Facebook didn't initially mention this cross-check system when it asked for a review of the decision to suspend former President Donald Trump, an omission the board described as "not acceptable" given it was relevant to a case about how policies are enforced for political leaders. The board also said Facebook has admitted it shouldn't have claimed the cross-check system only applies to a "small number of decisions" because this phrasing could be misleading. 

In general, the board said transparency is "clearly an area where Facebook must urgently improve" and that the platform often isn't being clear with users about why their content is removed. The board is now set to review Facebook's cross-check system and make recommendations on how it can be changed. In response to the board's criticism, Facebook promised Thursday it will "strive to be clearer in our explanations to them going forward."