5 min read

Meta’s most banned word, ad targeting vs moderation and new civility research

The week in content moderation - edition #241

Hello and welcome to Everything in Moderation's Week in Review, your in-depth guide to the policies, products, platforms and people shaping the future of online speech and the internet. It's written by me, Ben Whitelaw and supported by members like you.

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Today's newsletter is very Meta heavy, which speaks to the political pressure that's building in the US as November's election swings into view and the pressure to regulate platform speech builds. It's not all bad though: I link to a Nature study that offers a crumb of hope, if you decide to stick around till the end.

Here's everything in moderation from the last seven days — BW

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The TrustLab team is calling all online safety professionals to participate in a survey that will gather perspectives on the challenges faced by T&S folks across the world. Whether you work for a gaming company, social media platform, marketplace or web service provider, TrustLab wants to hear from you!

Your participation will contribute to a broader understanding of the collective efforts of online safety professionals and help in identifying key areas where companies like TrustLab can innovate and improve.


New and emerging internet policy and online speech regulation

The independent-but-Meta-funded Oversight Board this week recommended that the platform ends its ban on the word “shaheed” (sometimes used to glorify extremists who have committed terrorist acts) because it “disproportionately restricts free expression”. The ban, designated under Meta’s controversial Dangerous Organizations and Individuals (DOI) policy, has made shaheed the most moderated word on its platforms.

Removing the blanket ban would allow its use “in reporting and neutral commentary, academic discussion, human rights debates and even more passive ways”, says the Board. The advisory was welcomed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other rights groups.

Broader context: Meta’s Arabic moderation has long left a lot to be desired but looked like it might shift following the impact assessment on Palestinian digital rights in September 2022, after which the company committed to 10 of 21 recommendations (EiM #175). Despite finally updating its DOI policy in September last year (EiM #214), issues remain (EiM #236). And now US senators are pushing for answers.

If you’re interested in Meta’s means of governance, you might enjoy this speculative read imagining what the company would look like if it was governed by users. Digital juries and participative forms of decision making have potential, even on Facebook (EiM #175) but, while a Users’ Republic of Meta sounds good, I doubt Zuck agrees.

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