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Content Moderation of Social Media

Sarah T. Roberts

In this episode of Are You A Robot? Sarah T. Roberts joins us to discuss her book, “Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media,” which was released in June 2019.

Sarah is an associate professor of Information Studies at the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies, specializing in Internet culture, social media, and the intersection of media, technology and society. Along with Dr Safiya Noble, she is the co-founder of the UCLA Centre for Critical Internet Inquiry and a research associate of the Oxford Internet Institute.

Social media plays an enormous part in our lives, and it is something that seems quite hard to admit. We’ve all ended up doom-scrolling on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok or LinkedIn! The majority of our feeds are posts from friends and family or unknown people over the internet. It’s a great way to catch up with what’s going on in people’s lives, especially in the current climate of lockdown.

Yet, social media has been the source of nightmares – a place of hateful speech, violence, racism, sexism are just some of the examples. On Twitter, some of these tweets are hidden. In our interview with Sarah, she explains that what is less known to the public is that the shield that hides these hateful tweets is not an algorithm but people.

"I feel like it’s my responsibility to get in there and clean it up so that it’s a usable site.”

In the interview, Demetrios and Sarah dive into the moderators' psychological effects and the impact their job must have on their mental health. Sarah shares an anecdote that explains the amount of responsibility the moderators take on to make social media sites usable and safe.

How detrimental is it to be exposed to this on a daily basis? How can we train an algorithm to moderate social media? Check out the links below to watch/listen to the whole interview and join our Slack community to continue the conversation!

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