Meta’s independent oversight committee on Tuesday recommended that the company should revamp its cross-check system related to the content of high-profile users on Facebook and Instagram.

The cross-check programme, also known as XCheck, exempts accounts of celebrities, politicians and other influential users from its rules. If any post from a user on Meta’s cross-check lists is identified as violating the company’s rules, it remains on the platform until it is further reviewed.

Meta claims the programme provides an additional level of review.

On Tuesday, Meta’s Oversight Board, however, said that it has found several shortcomings in the programme.

“While Meta told the Board that cross-check aims to advance Meta’s human rights commitments, we found that the programme appears more directly structured to satisfy business concerns,” the Board said.

The Board added that by providing extra protection to certain users, which it said were mainly selected according to business interests, the programme allows content which would otherwise be removed quickly to remain for a longer period.

“This unequal treatment is particularly concerning given the lack of transparent criteria for Meta’s cross-check lists,” the Board said. “...We are also concerned about the limited information that Meta has provided to the public and its users about cross-check.”

The Board also said that it had started reviewing the cross-check programme in 2021 after a report in the Wall Street Journal alleged it shields “millions of VIP users” from the company’s normal enforcement process.

In one of the examples of how users on the cross-check list benefit from the system, The Wall Street Journal report said that Facebook did not immediately delete posts from Brazilian footballer Neymar that were against the platform’s guidelines for “nonconsensual intimate imagery”.

It was alleged that the footballer had posted nude photos of a woman who had accused him of rape. He had pulled down the images after some time.

In Tuesday’s advisory, Meta’s Oversight Board said that the company should measure, audit and publish key metrics around the cross-check programme to determine its effectiveness.

“Content identified as violating during Meta’s first assessment that is high severity should be removed or hidden while further review is taking place,” the board said while listing out 32 recommendations regarding the programme. “Such content should not be allowed to remain on the platform accruing views simply because the person who posted it is a business partner or celebrity.”

According to Reuters, while the recommendations of the Board are not binding, Meta is required to respond within 60 days.

However, a spokesperson for the Oversight Board said the company had asked for and received an extension of 30 days.