3 min read

📌 Moderation is mainstream

The week in content moderation - edition #1

Thanks for being one of the early people to sign up to Everything in Moderation. It's nice to see both some new names and some old colleagues. Please don’t be shy with your feedback — just hit reply and send me one or two lines. I promise, I’m much tougher than I look.

It would make sense for me to explain a bit about who I am and why I’ve finally got round to starting this but there’s so much to get to, I’ll save that for another day.

Thanks for reading — BW

Moderation is mainstream

There’s something strange and also amazing about the fact that content moderation (a job that was not too long ago described as ‘the worst job going’) is now being discussed, seriously, on a US conservative radio show with 13.5 million weekly listeners. How far we've come.

Jack Dorsey's interview with Sean Hannity yesterday (you can listen here) didn't say anything new (he essentially talked the host through Twitter's abuse rules) but it was symbolic.

Whatever you think about Alex Jones, know this: moderation is mainstream now.

Tl;dr - humans at work

Ignore that this is tweet is about Twitter and their decision to penalise a cereal advertising mascot; it is the whole issue in a nutshell. Complex work, with difficult rules, being done by people who apply those rules differently.

The inevitable section on Facebook

I don’t want this newsletter to become overwhelmed by the platforms, let alone Facebook, but Antonio Martinez Garcia, former Facebook product manager and author of Chaos Monkeys (I’ve not read it yet - would you recommend?), has a few paragraphs in a piece for Wired about how moderation doesn’t sit nicely within a new, fast-moving start up.

"The task requires lots of expensive lawyers, well-run operational teams managed by veteran practitioners, skilled security professionals, and the like. This is not the natural makeup of an early-stage startup."

We may look back at 2018 as the end of the post moderation era, when platforms realised that reactive reviewing by a small team was not enough.

'A place online like no other'

That’s the way The Many, a moderated Facebook group with women from different political standpoints, describes itself.

The group isn’t new (it launched in January and is running until November)  but I came across it via a rallying Medium piece  about how civility isn't dead, which I'd recommended reading.

I took two things away from it:

1) It’s difficult to join The Many. There’s no link to it on Spaceship's site and it’s tricky to find on Facebook. If you want to join, there's a form you have to fill in which ask you a bunch of basic info plus ten questions you'd be surprised if you're councillor asked you including ‘what has changed for the worst since you grew up?’ and ‘what gives you hope?’. That's clearly part of what's made it successful.

2) The way those from Spaceship Media, who started the group, talk about themselves. Kristine Villaneueva, one of the leads on The Many, calls herself 'moderator and reporter’.  Her role is both to start a conversation and facilitate it, to instigate and see it through. Not many reporters see themselves in the same way.

Not forgetting..

AI is not a community management strategy
Derek Powazek, creator of many a design magazine and community, says AI might be able to help spot terror attacks but it’s no match for complicated humans. Read in full.

India consider WhatsApp ban
It's at the heart of the spread of misinformation in India. Now, the department of telecommunications has asked telcos in the country to explore ways they can block WhatsApp and other social networks. Read in full.

Wikipedia care about their community
Who knew that Wikipedia ran month-long events to help editors on the platform fix problems they face? I didn’t. These Inspire Campaigns (I know, then name could be better) receive grants of around $1500 dollars. Ideas submitted so far including a night mode and a survey of inactive Wikipedia users. Imagine if other platforms canvassed opinions from their community in the same way? Read in full.

Everything in Moderation is a weekly newsletter about content moderation and the policies, products, platforms and people shaping its future.