What is content moderation? Content Moderation is the act of reviewing user generated content in the form of text, photos, and or video. Content Moderators check the content against a pre-determined set of guidelines and rules. Content Moderation is important to stop inappropriate or non-permissible posts.
This is the complete guide to content moderation. In this guide, you’ll learn:
- Part 1 The basics and benefits of user-generated content
- Part 2 The risks of UGC and how content moderation solutions can help
- Part 3 Content moderation methods: Human-based, AI-based, and more
- Part 4 How to choose a moderation partner
Ready to discover how content moderation can help your organization reap the benefits of user-generated content while avoiding the risks? Let’s dive in.
Part 1: What are the Benefits of User-Generated Content?
User-generated content (UGC): Any content that has been created by end users, often to promote a brand’s products or services online.
UGC can include content that may be shared on online platforms such as websites, social media accounts, and other marketing channels, including:
UGC may also take the form of blog posts, social media comments, forum posts, podcasts, reviews, and testimonials. UGC is not created by the brand that is being promoted, which can actually be to your advantage as a business.
Today’s consumers are in the position to ask “Why should I trust your brand?” Authentic content created by users allows you to answer “Because other users just like you trust our brand,” without ever creating a banner ad or advertising on a billboard.
There are several benefits to implementing UGC in your marketing campaigns that are worth noting:
1. Brand exposure to new audiences.
Generally, millennials demonstrate trust in influencers, brand ambassadors, and followers that are relatable and consistently create authentic pieces content. When these influencers create and share content that features your products and/or services, this puts your brand in front of a traditionally hard-to-reach audience, giving you free exposure. Additionally, this decreases your expenses, as your brand will be able to reduce the amount of time and money spent on creating marketing content in house and promoting it via targeted paid media.
2. Engagement among existing followers.
To better grow your audience and turn leads into sales, make retaining the customers and followers that your brand already has as much of a priority as attracting new customers. There are several ways that UGC increases engagement with your existing audience, and the following land at the top of the list:
- UGC keeps followers engaged with your brand, creating brand enthusiasts in the process.
- When you share UGC with your own audience, it facilitates trust in your brand’s offerings and boosts your brand’s credibility.
- When followers see their own thoughtfully created, unique content featured by your brand on a major social media platform visited by large audiences, that shared UGC makes them feel appreciated, special, and excited to spread the word about your brand.
- Considering that 70 percent of consumers trust online consumer opinions, sharing customer testimonials about your service or product in the form of UGC acts as social proof that helps followers with their buying decisions.
3. Improved search engine rankings.
Original, dynamic UGC has the power to be relatable to consumers while also improving search engine rankings.
Here’s how the latter works:
Generally, the more content you have on a web page, the more power it can have in the eyes of search engines. When some of that content is user generated, the variety of words and phrases increases, as the UGC creators use their own wording. Often, this is wording that your company may not have considered using, or legally be allowed to use. The result is a page with an array of rich keywords for search engines to see, and a substantially more well-rounded website overall. Additionally, if that UGC includes photos and/ or videos, then this enhanced level of mixed media can further improve your webpage’s rank.
By deploying UGC, your brand managers can improve brand exposure and development, engage new and existing audiences, provide word-of-mouth endorsement, improve search engine rankings, and give your brand the edge it needs to compete in today’s market.
Part 2: What are the Risks of UGC and How Can Content Moderation Help?
There are risks associated with publishing content created by your organization’s community members – A fact that savvy brands do not overlook.
User-Generated Risks Include:
- Unmoderated content published in real time exposes your brand to offensive content
- Unmonitored two-way interactions get offensive
- UGC posts get out of control, taking your brand down with it
Risk 1) Unmoderated Content Published in Real Time Exposes Your Brand to Offensive Content
Publishing user-generated posts and video content in real time means that the information is going live immediately instead of being curated by a moderation team before-hand. By allowing unmoderated content to be published in real time, offensive content can be easily uploaded, damaging your brand.
Anytime you work with UGC in real time, you run the risk of broadcasting highly visible content that could be offensive, even if a user intended it to be funny. Or, a user could share content that simply doesn’t align well with your company’s values.
For instance, a celebrity sponsored by your high-end jewelry brand may have a live interview broadcast from a nightclub on your brand’s website. The celeb, a bit intoxicated, may misinterpret a seemingly acceptable chat question and respond with a barrage of profanity and threats. At the very least, such incidents are embarrassing. In the worst case, you may have upset and lost some of your brand’s followers.
UGC may very well give your brand an edge as a marketing tool, but that content could do more harm than good. Fortunately, you can mitigate the risk of these occurrences with UGC moderation.
Work with a company that has a combination of trained professionals on staff and artificial intelligence (AI) moderating UGC in real time. Both are required, since humans are able to distinguish the nuances of language, photos, and videos that AI may fail to analyze correctly.
Risk 2) Unmonitored Two-Way Interactions Get Offensive
Brands that offer services or apps featuring two-way interactions must be especially vigilant about preventing hate speech, nudity, drug use, violence, or other inappropriate material from being shared. Dating websites and apps are most at risk, but even “gig economy” brands like grocery delivery services or ride sharing digital platforms should have content moderation processes in place.
Anytime a customer, client, contractor, or employee can send a photo that might be offensive, content moderation is necessary. No matter who the user is, it’s important to recognize that two-way interactions are beneficial, but also come with increased risk of offensive or harmful communications. Here are some examples:
- Dating Apps
Dating app moderation can be as simple as setting photo standards, such as permitting only a full human face, and never a meme or a photo with two people in it. Or, it can be as complex as navigating specific terms of nudity that you set, such as allowing partial nudity in profile pics or in two-way interactions.
- Delivery Services
Content moderation in a grocery delivery service, for example, may involve stopping a “hangry” customer whose food order was canceled from sending the personal shopper an inappropriate photo or offensive message. It’s just as important that your customers be protected, so all UGC sent by subcontractors should be checked before it reaches them. For example, allowing a shopper to verify with a customer that “this is the item you wanted” with a photo of that item can quickly become a viral social event if the shopper decides to be “creative” with the photo he or she takes.
- Back of House Customer Service Platforms
Moderating customer communications is intended to protect employees from antagonistic customers and customers from disgruntled employees. This may involve preventing customer service reps from generating bills with questionable content or reacting offensively, or protecting reps from being berated by customers in live chat. Using a block list downloaded from the web, however, won’t be sufficient prevention. To thoroughly protect your brand and prevent customer billing debacles (such as the changing of a customer’s name to “A-hole Brown” on a bill) look for proficient, accurate profanity filtering technologies that feature custom block & allow lists, the ability to scan text embedded in images, support for multiple languages, and other safety measures so that your customers, staff, and brand are thoroughly protected.
- Transportation and Gig Helper Apps
In-app chat moderation must be a priority in the case of communications between a mobile subcontracted workforce and users, such as a ride service hailing company or outsourced task app. Volatile messages between a subcontracted staffer and a user may damage your credibility and your bottom line. To mitigate these risks, look for an experienced content moderation partner that offers efficient profanity filtering technologies featuring moderation of in-app chat among employees/ subcontractors and customers.
How can you protect your brand against two-way interaction risks?
Answer: Make sure that employees, customers, subcontractors, and users cannot send a photo, video or message without moderation. Offensive messages cannot be stopped without pre-moderation, so seek the professional content moderation services of a company that can provide the necessary checks and balances.
Risk 3) UGC Posts Prove Brand Damaging
Through UGC campaigns, companies are using photos, tweets, and videos submitted by consumers to produce engagement and interest in a way that is cost effective. But your brand could take a hit if you let unacceptable material onto your social media platforms. Before launching UGC campaigns, your business must institute a well-constructed policy that is enforced by a team of professionals.
How can you prevent inappropriate UGC from landing on your company’s platform?
Answer: Implement profanity filters, image moderation, and video moderation, using both live teams and AI, to filter UGC. Moderating content is critical to making UGC work seamlessly for your company or clients. Stringent moderation can ensure UGC messaging remains relatively controlled, on brand, and beneficial to your bottom line.
Is content moderation important? The key arguments explained
As the internet continues to evolve and reshape the way we connect and communicate, content moderation has become an indispensable practice for managing online communities. At its core, content moderation involves the vigilant monitoring and regulation of user-generated content, with the aim of creating safe, inclusive and respectful digital spaces that reflect the values and ethos of the brands and organizations that host them. The significance of content moderation cannot be emphasized enough. It serves as a critical bulwark against the spread of harmful behavior and the erosion of the integrity of online platforms. Whether it’s filtering out hate speech, moderating discussions, or enforcing community guidelines, content moderation is the glue that holds together the fabric of our digital societies. But what is content moderation?
“Content moderation is really about human safety,” says Alexandra Popken, WebPurify’s VP of Trust & Safety. “And keeping users safe is a never-ending pursuit. It’s a complex craft that involves thinking about the worst ways in which humanity shows up online and implementing measures to mitigate that harm. And when you think about how to accomplish that, typically content moderation involves a combination of machines and people. The goal is really to proactively detect and remove harms before they materialize and impact real people, or to respond and react as quickly as possible once they have materialized.”
One example of the negative consequences of ineffective content moderation is seen in the case of popular social media platforms, which are increasingly criticized for their handling of hate speech and misinformation. Their failure to prevent the uninhibited spread of dubious “facts” and claims fueled accusations of complicity or at least partial responsibility for events like the January 6th, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol building. It can be argued that the spread of false information about the 2020 US Presidential Election on these platforms played a role in inciting the violence that occurred later.
The takeaway, at least in the world of tech and trust and safety, was that toxic content online, be it misleading or predatory, hateful or harassing, could easily spill offline and have very real-world effects. Insurrections aside, other consequences include cyberbullying, doxxing, stalking and financial crime It follows that good content moderation doesn’t just get ahead of an unpleasant or unsafe experience on a website or app, but also precludes downstream issues in the real world.
Another prime example of content moderation’s preventative nature is within online gaming communities, whose user experience can quickly spiral if a handful of bad apples target other players, or decide to be disruptive simply out of spite. Like any online communities, gaming harbors a subset of negative players – “there’s always going to be a level of moderation required in video games,” says Lauren Koester, VP of Marketing for game developers ForeVR.
The player experience, not to mention mental health of those being targeted, particularly if they’re already from minority communities, is compromised if bad content is left unchecked. Users leaving the platform en masse often follows, which doesn’t just spell trouble for a brand’s reputation but also means a very real drop in revenue. The upshot, again, is that poor moderation’s consequences extend to the real world, ultimately.
This impact is even more pronounced in the metaverse when providing content moderation in virtual reality. The difference stems from the fact that virtual reality plunges people into an all-encompassing digital environment, where slights aren’t just words rendered in pixels on your screen – but actually feel real, and can manifest as gestures or “physical” encroachments. Your sensory experience is heightened.
“I’ve worked in video games for a good chunk of my career and I’ve been a gamer for most of my life. I’ve seen and heard it all in public lobbies. I’ve experienced that as a gamer,” says Lauren, but she has also experienced first-hand how abuse in the metaverse differs. “Your avatar is an extension of your physical self. In VR it’s not just the standard moderation of bad words, toxicity – it’s a question of solving this “physical” abuse that can make you feel violated.”
Part 3: What are Some Content Moderation Methods?
You can and should capitalize on UGC, but in order to make it a worthwhile investment, UGC must be accompanied by moderation. Sounds simple, until you realize that there are various forms available to choose from.
The type of content moderation that is appropriate for you can depend on client requirements, business needs, industry standards, and your online community. Before settling on the form your business will implement, examine the various ways to conduct moderation, and take all demands into consideration, as well as goals for your brand’s online presence.
Content moderation techniques explained
When we talk about content moderation techniques, we mean the methods and strategies used to monitor and regulate user-generated content both by teams of human moderators and AI tools. Every brand has its own guidelines and definition of what is acceptable, so these techniques will vary by client and industry, but all are the same in the sense that they are essential to ensure communities remain safe, inclusive, and respectful spaces for all users.
This is one of the most common content moderation techniques. It involves the use of software to automatically detect and remove user posts that contain certain keywords or phrases. For example, a platform might use keyword filtering to automatically remove posts containing hate speech, profanity, or other offensive language. WebPurify has a standard set of NSFW categories that serve as the simplest iteration of its filtering methods. We then work with brands consultatively to find their lines in the sand, asking questions about what their typical user might find offensive and any unique risks inherent to said brand’s industry, specifically (for example, otherwise benign terms that might have a negative connotation in a certain community, reference a competitor or be alluding to a current event that is not appropriate). ,
The strength of keyword filtering is that it can quickly and efficiently remove large amounts of harmful content at scale. However, it can also be prone to false positives, where innocent posts are mistakenly flagged and removed, for example, if the AI has misunderstood a user’s sarcasm. This is why keyword filtering works best in conjunction with human moderators, who can understand the nuance of tonality.
Image recognition is another content moderation technique that involves the use of software to automatically detect and remove posts containing certain images or videos. For example, a platform might use image recognition to automatically remove posts containing nudity (find out how we help brands define what nudity means), violence, offensive gestures, drugs, or other graphic content.
Like keyword filtering, the strength of AI-driven image recognition is that it can quickly identify and remove harmful content at scale based on clearly defined parameters which, again, we work with clients to nail down with specificity. However, like keyword filtering, image recognition on its own can also be prone to false positives and false negatives. WebPurify is a market leader because its combination of AI and human moderation teams provides unparalleled accuracy with the ability to scale as your platform grows.
Human moderation involves the use of highly trained moderators to manually review and remove posts that violate the platform’s policies. This can include reviewing posts flagged by AI, responding to user-reported offenses or proactively monitoring for harmful content that was missed (yes, it can happen) by or in place of AI. Often with our clients, WebPurify’s AI tools provide a first pass for incoming content where images and video are concerned, eliminating obvious examples of guideline violations. For example, content is scored in real-time to reflect the likelihood of a violation, An image that is determined to have a 90% chance of nudity is removed immediately, but an image in the 50-60% range, suggests the AI isn’t as sure, and this content gets bumped to our live teams for an extra check. This is one order of events, but other clients sometimes opt for any content that isn’t immediately filtered out by our AI – not just what the AI thinks is an edge case – to be passed on to our human moderators. Clients dealing with artistic imagery or needing to screen for unique, contextual, criteria (example: no images that imply drunk driving) often opt for this approach.
Given our moderators’ rigorous training, the fact most moderators are dedicated to a single client’s project, and our commitment to in-house teams only, with access to unmatched onsite wellness benefits, WebPurify’s human moderation is a highly reliable complement to AI. Its strength lies in providing a more nuanced approach to content moderation, taking into account context and intent, while seamlessly leaning on AI so as to not sacrifice scale. It should be noted that the above-mentioned 2-in-1 combination, that is to say, AI checking and then escalating to humans, depending on initial results, can be achieved in a single API call.
The 4 most common ways to conduct content moderation rely on either human moderators, AI, or both, and include:
Hybrid Content Moderation
|In-House Content Moderation||Crowdsourced Moderation||AI-Based Content Moderation||Expert Partner Outsourcing|
|Human content moderators ensure that your brand is always seen in the best possible light by spending hour after hour scanning content.||Crowdsourcing moderation to a network of people in the form of an open call.Crowdsourced moderators are usually anonymous and typically not specialists.||AI algorithms tackle the immense task of locating and removing millions of posts containing nudity, hate speech, weapons, drugs, or offensive gestures.||AI can be used to remove any overtly objectionable content such as pornography or hate symbols. And a human team can review the content for more nuanced and brand-specific criteria.|
|Pros: With a content moderator in-house, you have more control over your content moderation operation. Moderators work alongside you to update content guidelines based on immediate needs.||Pros: Real-time, high speed moderation at low prices.||Pros: AI can moderate content faster and at lower cost than human reviewers. AI can be taught to detect certain words and patterns of content, as well as learn to recognize profanity and other harmful content.||Pros: Accuracy and expertise. Successful prevention of blatantly offensive, brand damaging content and assurance that the featured images, text, and videos support your brand’s mission. As you grow, moderation can scale up and down with ease.|
|Cons: It’s costly to have full-time 24×7 moderators on staff. It’s also time consuming, as moderators will require rigorous training and supervision.||Cons: Moderators are not familiar with your distinct brand criteria. There is no guarantee that crowdsourced moderators will be unbiased. False positives, false negatives, privacy violations, and image theft have been known to occur.||Cons: AI cannot understand context, resulting in occasional flagging of harmless content or, even more concerning, failing to catch inappropriate content. False positives and false negatives have been known to occur. AI trained on millions of examples may still make mistakes that a human would not.||Cons: Far more accurate for brand and mission-critical needs, but can be more expensive than crowdsourced solutions or AI-only moderation.|
There are several moderation variations, depending on whether moderation is AI-based or human-based, and how one or both are conducting moderation. Let’s examine the most common variations of moderation and each one’s ability to maintain security and brand credibility:
What is Human-Based Moderation?
Pre-moderation is intended to ensure that your online community is not exposed to harmful content, safeguarding your brand against legal ramifications in the process. Text, images, video, and all other content are scrutinized by moderators trained to review UGC submitted by your audience before allowing it to become viewable. Pre-moderation is well suited for any company seeking to maintain their online reputation while growing their brand.
Pre-scanning UGC does not allow for real-time posting, which is why some businesses shy away from this approach. Delaying content from going live can frustrate online community members who are accustomed to seeing their posts instantly.
At WebPurify, we address this concern by offering AI-based pre-moderation. AI rejects anything with a high probability of containing harmful content before it can go live, allowing anything with a low probability to post immediately. Any “on the bubble” content can be held back for post-moderation by a live content moderation team within a few minutes.
Post-moderation displays user-generated content on your app or website immediately, while replicating it in a queue so a content moderator may review the content after it goes live, so as not to slow down the user experience. Dating apps, some social sites, and other social media platforms will often use post-moderation in response to users’ demand for immediate posting.
Relying on a post-moderation approach comes with significant risk. For instance, dating platforms see tens of thousands of images come through daily. By allowing these images to go live on a site before screening them, companies are taking a significant risk, and their resources are often left playing catch-up as they attempt to take down offensive posts before it upsets users. Even if content is taken down, it is often too late, as users have already taken a screenshot of the experience and shared it.
Fortunately, an expert partner can help mitigate the risk for companies that elect to use post-moderation. WebPurify works with online platforms whose users live stream their videos in real time (which cannot be delayed by pre-moderation). With a combination of our live teams and technology, we address any issues within minutes of these broadcasts starting.
Reactive moderation relies on the community to flag concerning online content, which is then surfaced to your well-trained internal support team or moderation partner. This form of moderation is often used as a safety net in conjunction with pre- and post-moderation to catch any untoward content that slipped through the cracks.
When used as the primary method of moderation, reactive moderation gives members the responsibility of flagging content on the community platform or website that they deem offensive, typically through the use of a reporting button. When a community member clicks on the button, an alert is filed with the website’s moderation team or administrators, flagging the UGC that must be reviewed. The content in question will then be removed if it is determined to be in violation of the site’s regulations.
Since reactive moderation depends on community members, this method comes with the risk of making offensive content visible on a brand’s website, albeit briefly, and many organizations are not willing to take this risk and compromise their brand image.
Distributed moderation is best described as a “jury of your peers” approach where a brand charges their users with the task of content moderation. In distributed moderation, a rating system enables online community members to vote based on an average score.
This score is determined by several community members, and the voting process decides whether or not content submitted by fellow users adheres to the online community’s values and aligns with posting regulations. Generally, voting is complemented by supervision from the community’s senior moderators.
Distributed moderation is often used by smaller businesses that are drawn to the member-forced moderation method because of their limited budget. Unfortunately, some community members will be turned off by the lack of company supervision. And when it comes to mission critical content, relying solely on the community to enforce the rules is an approach that can too easily lead to the posting of brand-damaging content. Distributed moderation is recommended only in combination with other moderation methods, if at all.
What is AI-Based Automated Moderation?
Run by specially designed technical tools, automated moderation is responsible for filtering offensive language and other violations in multimedia content by implementing complex artificial intelligence solutions. An automatic and faster way of identifying offensive posts, AI moderation can also help to block the IP addresses of users that are classified as abusive.
Automated technology, however, is limited by its inability to distinguish the nuances of photos, videos, and text in the absence of human review. For this reason, the most effective moderation solution is one that pairs AI-based moderation with live moderation so acceptable content is not filtered out and harmful types of content are detected.
What is “Hybrid Approach” Content Moderation?
A Perfect Partnership of AI and Human Content Moderation Services
The risks of using AI alone were brought to light during the Covid pandemic when many large social media companies were forced to send their live teams home, solely relying on AI. The pandemic completely changed how businesses used to work. AI became a necessity and so companies started using various methods and tools like management software, moderation programs, business phone systems, etc.
While AI provides data that your organization can use to make content moderation decisions, it has distinct limits. AI may catch images that are harmless or fail to catch everything it’s programmed to. On the other hand, it could take months for teams of professional moderators to go through millions of images that AI could process and rank in minutes, or even seconds.
A hybrid approach to moderation, combining human review and AI efforts, is necessary to effectively monitor user-generated type of content. At WebPurify, we’ve been using a hybrid system of AI and live human moderation to scrub UGC for hundreds of brands for over a decade.
AI can be used to detect and reject any overtly objectionable content (such as hate symbols or offensive gestures) before it can go live, and allow any content with a low probability of being inappropriate to post immediately. Any borderline posts can be held back for a human team to review for more nuanced and brand-specific criteria a few minutes later. This allows your company to prevent blatantly offensive, brand-damaging content and ensure that the images, text, and videos that are featured support your brand’s mission.
The biggest challenges in content moderation
Content moderation is a challenging and complex task that requires a combination of technical expertise and human judgment. Content moderators face several challenges in their work, including determining what constitutes harmful content (including recognizing tonality), dealing with the high volume of content users publish and managing the mental health side effects of their work, which are not insignificant.
The nuances of harmful content
While some content, such as hate speech and graphic violence, is relatively easy to identify, other types of harmful content, such as misinformation and propaganda, can be more difficult to ascertain. Content moderators must be able to understand the nuances of different types of content and make decisions about what is and is not acceptable on the platform, relative to the brand guidelines of the client. WebPurify works closely with clients to outline the decision-making process for all such scenarios so that decisions can be made quickly to either remove harmful content or preserve the user experience. This is often a highly bespoke process and incorporates an ongoing feedback loop between the client and WebPurify trainers and team leads since small adjustments are often required – especially as the client is “calibrating” their rules or reacting to unexpected gray areas situations.
Increasing content volumes
The high volume of user-generated content on online platforms has also been one of the biggest challenges for content moderators to manage. Growth in not only social media, gaming and dating platforms, but also e-commerce brands inviting user reviews or customization options means an increasing number of brands face down millions of pieces of uploaded content every day, and it’s easy to fall behind. Content moderators must be able to review this content quickly and efficiently, which can seem like an overwhelming task. To succeed, a team must be able to work effectively under pressure while relying on AI where it makes sense.
The benefit of AI moderation is that it solves for scale, so as a client’s UGC volumes grow, WebPurify’s AI-powered moderation systems can process large volumes of content in real-time, at a highly affordable price. However, sometimes our clients are looking to scale human moderation to solve for more nuanced workflows; in those cases, we partner together to determine how to appropriately staff a project to meet the desired turnaround time with 24/7 coverage.
Fast-evolving technology and forms of abuse
“There are a lot of bad actors in the world who spend their time thinking about how to be nefarious online,” says Alex. “So content moderation is a job in which you constantly need to assess risks, particularly risks that haven’t even materialized yet, and ensure that you have the proper guardrails in place to prevent exploitation. It’s extremely challenging.
“So I think more broadly, as we see new technologies come on the market, for example, most recently these chatbots or generative AI, it’s not only up to the companies creating these technologies but also incumbent upon those brands that are integrating these technologies into their platforms to think about the ways in which they can be misused. And that’s where WebPurify can help.”
It should also be stated that content moderation has a significant impact on the mental health of moderators. The nature of our work means that moderators are exposed to large amounts of harmful content, including graphic violence, hate speech, and other forms of abuse. This exposure can lead to stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues. This being the case, platforms must ensure that moderators have access to appropriate support and resources – no exceptions.
Mental health protection
WebPurify has a robust Employee Wellbeing and Assistance Program (EWAP) that is specifically designed to address the aforementioned mental health challenges one faces when performing content moderation. Our EWAP includes 24/7 counseling services, access to therapists and stress control programs, as well as mindfulness training and a wealth of resources, reading materials, workshops and more. We also regularly assess our team to get a feel for overall stress levels and provide on-site counseling, with follow-up sessions, for those who need it. The mental health of our team is paramount.
A Word on Mental Health
If you choose to hire an in-house moderation team, it’s imperative that you prioritize the moderation team’s mental health, as well as their overall working conditions. If you choose to work with a professional moderation agency, be sure they have a comprehensive mental health program in place for those who will be moderating your platform’s content.
The impact of content moderation on user experience
On the one hand, effective content moderation creates a safer and more inclusive online community by removing harmful content and ensuring that users feel comfortable and respected. On the other hand, excessive or inconsistent content moderation can lead to frustration, feelings of censorship and a negative user experience. This is why WebPurify takes a consultative approach with its clients to clarify their brand values and community guidelines. WebPurify isn’t ever looking to censor content: our goal is to help you define what’s acceptable for your community and then enforce that standard.
“In order to preserve a positive user experience, you do need some level of content moderation,” says Alex. “If a user is in an online space and subject to harassment or abuse and hateful content, then it becomes someplace they don’t want to be. So it’s critical even for smaller websites to have effective content moderation practices in place to preserve a positive user experience and retain customers.”
“Sometimes people equate content moderation with censorship or limiting freedom of speech. But the reality is that moderation isn’t limiting one’s ability to express themselves. It’s creating a safer, more vibrant, more inclusive online world for users. We’ve never engaged in the picking and choosing of opinions – ours is a product that strictly helps brands keep their online communities free of clearly objectionable content.”
Balancing content moderation with user freedom of expression is essential to creating a positive user experience. Platforms should be transparent about their moderation policies and ensure that they are applied consistently and fairly. They must also provide users with the tools and resources they need to report harmful content, appeal takedowns they feel are unfair, and otherwise engage in constructive dialogue with moderators.
Part 4: Choosing a Moderation Partner
If you’re undecided as to whether or not you will handle moderation yourself or work with a partner, consider the pros and cons of both approaches.
|Self Moderation||Partnership with Moderation Agency|
If you don’t take the time to properly evaluate prospective options, the public consequences can be irreparable. When choosing a moderation partner, confirm that the company you are working with does not crowdsource under any circumstances and the team moderating your platforms and apps is working in a controlled, professional atmosphere.
If a moderation company cannot guarantee that it will never store or share any of your data, then they aren’t the moderation partner to trust with your brand. To ensure that the partner you choose to moderate your UGC is qualified to fill this integral role, refer to this questionnaire as a framework: Questionnaire for Selecting a UGC Moderation Partner
Best practices in content moderation
First and foremost, it is essential to develop clear and transparent content moderation policies, and WebPurify works steadfastly with brands to define these policies and keep revisiting them as trends and technology change. These policies should outline what types of content are allowed on the platform, as well as the consequences for any violations. It is also important to ensure that these policies are applied consistently and fairly, without bias or discrimination.
A hybrid approach
WebPurify’s market-leading content moderation approach combines automated moderation techniques, such as keyword filtering and image recognition, with human moderation tactics. Automated moderation can help to quickly and efficiently identify and remove harmful content, while human moderation provides a more nuanced and context-specific approach.
In-built reporting tools
Platforms should provide users with clear and accessible tools for reporting harmful content. These reporting tools should be easy to use and clearly indicate the steps that users can take if they encounter harmful content on the platform. It is also important to ensure that reports are handled promptly and efficiently, with clear communication between the user and the moderation team.
Training and support
Finally, platforms should ensure that content moderators receive adequate training and support. All of WebPurify’s moderators receive regular, thorough training and mental health support. Because moderating harmful content can be a stressful and challenging task, particularly CSAM content, it is crucial to provide moderators with the resources and support they need to both manage their workload effectively and maintain their mental health. Spending hours each day viewing some of the worst that humanity can offer does take a toll, so taking regular breaks, talking about what they’ve seen and having emotional support are vital.
For small websites and blogs, effective content moderation can be particularly challenging, as resources may be limited. However, by following these best practices, it is possible to moderate content effectively and fairly, while also creating a positive and engaging online community for all users.