Due to the social distancing requirements of COVID-19, online platforms have become vital to people’s work, education, social lives, and leisure. The content moderators of these platforms are often the unsung heroes of the pandemic, keeping us safe, one click at a time, from those that would do us harm.
2020 was a year that saw every facet of our lives reshaped. Our online lives were no exception. In this age of disinformation, identity fraud, phishing, child exploitation, and online predators, moderating the content of online platforms has become crucial as we, and our loved ones, spend more and more time connected through digital spaces. What follows is a brief overview of what it means to be a content moderator and the particular set of skills and traits that are needed for this demanding yet indispensable job.
1. What is a content moderator?
Content moderation is one of the many ways that businesses can maintain a positive online reputation, a good relationship with their customers, and increase their customer base. In a highly competitive online marketplace, a company’s online content can help them stand out, for better or worse. A content moderator’s job is to not only make sure that content is placed in the right category, but to moderate and filter the content to keep a company’s’ social media pages, blogs, and website safe from unwanted subject matter such as spam, indecent photos, profanity, and illegal content.
2. How does one become a content moderator?
The primary qualifications for becoming a social media content moderator are language ability, local marketability, and some college education. Any previous experience working across various social media platforms or monitoring an online forum can also be very helpful. Employers will provide successful applicants with specialist training on the job, but the more of the qualifications and experience listed above one has, the easier it will be to land a job moderating social media content.
3. What are the most important characteristics needed to become a good content moderator?
Content moderation might seem like an easy job. Some see it as they see the job of a quality control officer at a fruit packing plant. Simply throwing out the bad fruit and allowing the good fruit to pass. But it’s far more than just being able to discern good from the bad. Sifting through the yet-to-be-filtered content of the Internet requires a sharp eye, a trained mind, and a tough stomach. It requires a precise, level-headed analysis that can analyze context properly. The most important personal qualities needed to become a good content moderator are:
Patience – content moderators need to maintain a high pace while not sacrificing accuracy so it’s necessary to remain patient and not lose concentration.
Integrity – content moderation is all about ethics and principles. The ideal moderator shouldn’t lose track of the final objective.
Curiosity – content moderators are sure to stumble upon new content they didn’t even know existed from time to time. It’s important to stay curious and research the items, to make sure they’re in the right category, or, if the item doesn’t meet the platform’s rules and guidelines, reject the content.
4. What are the positives about working in content moderation?
There’s only one Internet. Young and vulnerable people can potentially be exposed to the same scams or disturbing content as everyone else. And let’s face it, we can’t watch over our kids 24/7 to make sure they aren’t exposed to anything harmful or distressing. Even sites specifically aimed at children can fall victim to unpleasant content. Teams of content moderators around the globe are on a mission to reduce the risk of Internet users seeing content they may consider upsetting or offensive. Content moderators work together in dynamic and cohesive teams to make the online world, and consequently the real world, a better place. Outside of emergency services and charity work, there are not many roles that deliver such a satisfying sense of purpose.
5. How do content moderators moderate content so accurately and quickly?
Content moderators are specifically trained to be keenly focused on the important part of the uploaded content. Even a small piece of information in a listing can be revealing and inform the moderator as to what their next step should be. It’s also crucial to stay updated on the latest scams and frauds as uploads may appear innocent at first but turn out to be more sinister than first expected.
AI (Machine learning) can also be a huge help to content moderators and automated systems are certainly doing quite a bit to help. They act as ‘first responders’, for example, dealing with the obvious problems that appear on the surface, while pushing more subtle, suspect content toward human moderators.
Recent advances in deep learning have greatly increased the speed and competency with which computers classify information in images, video, and text. Machine learning systems need a large number of examples to learn what offending content looks like which means those systems will improve in years to come as training datasets get bigger. Some of the systems currently in place would look impossibly fast and accurate even a few years ago.
However, right now, technology still struggles to understand the social context for posts or videos and, as a result, can make inaccurate judgments about their meaning.
Clearly, a pairing of the efficiency of AI with the context-understanding empathy and situational thinking of humans can be an ideal partnership for moderation. Together, they can swiftly, accurately, and effectively, vet high volumes of multimedia content.
6. What’s the most common type of content that content moderators deal with?
The kind of content that gets removed depends on the policies of that particular platform. While Facebook, with few exceptions, has a strict no-nudity policy (much to the chagrin of some), other social media spaces are more lenient. However, there are certain kinds of content that no legitimate and respectable platform will tolerate. Here are some of the most common:
Scams are as old as time and unfortunately, Internet fraud is becoming more and more common. And for many online marketplaces, it’s often well-hidden or undetectable. Online shopping scams, dating & romance scams, fake charity scams, and identity theft are just some of the increasingly sophisticated attempts by criminals that content moderators try to eliminate from online platforms. 74% of consumers see security as the most important element of their online experience so it’s essential to have the right protection in place.
Online harassment is another complex and growing problem. It remains a common experience despite decades of work to identify unruly behavior and enforce rules against it. Consequently, many people avoid participating in online conversations for fear of harassment. Each platform will have its own way of enforcing its rules and it’s up to the moderators to vigilantly decide if the content violates these policies.
Violence and abuse: Unfortunately, some people feel the need to produce, upload, and share disturbing content showing the violence against and the abuse of animals, women, children, and other vulnerable people. Content Moderators are on the front line in the war against this kind of alarming content.
Extremists exploit social media for a range of reasons, from spreading hateful narratives and propaganda to financing, recruitment, and sharing operational information. The role of content moderation is to decide how best to limit audience exposure to extremist narratives and maintain the marginality of extremist views, all while being conscious of rights to free expression and the appropriateness of restrictions on speech.
Copyright infringement: Whether Internet intermediaries, such as internet service providers (ISPs), search engines, or social media platforms, are liable for copyright infringement by their users is a subject of debate and court cases in a number of countries.
As things stand, U.S. and European law states that online intermediaries hosting content that infringes copyright are not liable, so long as they do not know about it and take action once the infringing content is brought to their attention.
Content Moderators must be attentive and spot any potential threats that could lead to litigation from the holder of the copyright.
7. What type of companies need content moderators?
Any forward-looking business with an eye on expansion MUST be online. And for a business to be truly online, it must engage across multiple platforms, seeking input and user-generated content (UGC) as it goes. More than 8 in 10 consumers say UGC, in the form of discussions or reviews & recommendations from people they don’t know, has a major influence on their purchasing habits.
This content can be a double-edged sword, as companies have little control over what people say about their brand and there will always be a pernicious minority who will seek to use your social media page, comments section, or forums to spread harmful content.
Social media and other digital platforms are groaning under the weight of new content. Consumers and companies alike are uploading volumes of new content at staggering rates. 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day! This rate is expected to increase as people spend more and more time at home, under lockdown conditions.
Inappropriate, harmful, or illegal behavior hosted on a company’s platform can be a serious problem for the reputation of a brand. It’s the duty of content moderators to diligently scour the Internet, seeking out and eliminating the content that can cause harm, not just to the brand, but to the customers of that brand too.
In short, every business with an online presence needs to consider the potential benefits of outsourcing content moderation.
To learn more about outsourcing your content moderation processes and the value that it can bring your business, contact Pure Moderation for a free consultation and trial.
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