Facebook elite rule on content

A group of white execs with Harvard ties makes editorial judgment calls on controversial topics at Facebook. Zach Goelman reports.

After Facebook’s removal of an iconic Vietnam War photo sparked outrage last month, executives at the social media quickly restored it and offered an apology soon after.

But the reversal seemed to run counter to policy, according to two former Facebook employees, who said that very photo had been used in internal training as an example of an image that should be removed because it showed nudity.

That means standard procedure was overruled but by whom?

Reuters correspondent Dustin Volz has the inside story on Facebook’s inner sanctum: the ultimate decision-makers at the social media megasite


“Facebook like any other social media company has to decide where it draws the line on policing its content, and we’ve discovered that line is often drawn by a handful of senior execs at the top. These are Americans who are very close to one another. They include Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and a number of others all of whom went to Harvard, all of whom are white, and this has raised concern over whether or not they are appropriately position to review the mass amount of content on its platform that gets flagged on a daily basis.”

The inner circle executives include Justin Osofsky, who runs community operations, Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s government-relations chief, and Elliot Schrage, vice president for public policy.

Sandberg mentored Osofsky. She called Kaplan one of her closest friends. And Schrage followed Sandberg to Facebook from Google.

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