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How Do Content Moderation Services Ensure Online Safety?

Online safety goes beyond being a simple goal. It is a collective responsibility requiring the active participation of everyone. While users are crucial in maintaining online safety, content moderation services handle the bulk of the responsibility.

Content moderation underwent various improvements throughout the years. However, online safety remains elusive due to the widespread use of inappropriate user-generated content (UGC). A 2023 survey from Microsoft found that 69% of the participants experienced an online risk in 2022.

Around 85% of the respondents from the same survey agree that content moderation is crucial in maintaining online safety. Of those, 28% expect content moderation to curb illegal content, while 57% believe moderators decrease harmful content.

UGC-Related Risks Against Online Safety

UGC contributes to the richness and diversity of online experiences. However, it also opens the gate for certain risks to online safety. Here are some risks associated with the spread of UGC:

  • Explicit Material

The online sphere offers an avenue for people to share whatever they want, including explicit, adult, or inappropriate content. While explicit content is acceptable on some websites, most platforms prohibit sharing adult content. Content moderators prevent the spread of explicit materials that may lead to discomfort or distress among users.

  • Harassment and Trolling

According to the Anti-Defamation League, around 52% of adults and 33% of teens experienced online harassment in their lifetime. Content moderation services prevent users from engaging in offensive or harmful behavior towards others, decreasing the potential occurrence of harassment and trolling.

  • Fake News

UGC makes it easier for online users to share whatever they want. This ease in information dissemination may result in users deliberately spreading false information like fake news. Content moderation services identify and block misleading and fake content, preventing the spread of misinformation.

  • Unauthorized Sharing

Users may inadvertently disclose sensitive information while sharing information online. This carelessness may result in doxxing or even identity theft. Moderators can help users minimize oversharing,  prevent sensitive information from spreading, and warn users that they are about to share private data.

  • Discrimination and Hate Speech

Discrimination and hate speech can proliferate without proper content moderation services. A platform riddled with discriminatory and hateful content creates a hostile online environment that fosters negativity and conflict among users. Moderators filter content containing discrimination and hate speech to cultivate an online space conducive to healthy and positive user engagement.

  • Plagiarism

Users may commit copyright infringement while sharing their thoughts. Copyright infringement refers to using images, videos, or text without proper attribution or obtaining necessary permissions. Content moderation prevents users from sharing copyrighted content, avoiding possible legal consequences.

  • Fake Profiles

Users may create fake profiles to impersonate other people and do malicious activities. Content moderation can benefit businesses, allowing users to create an online profile. Dating sites can increase their protection against fake profiles and catfishing by integrating content moderation solutions into their platform or website.

  • Exploitation

UGC platforms may potentially host content exploiting children and other vulnerable individuals. Content moderation prevents the dissemination of harmful material involving children. It also helps businesses avoid potential legal repercussions of posting such materials.

  • Fake Reviews and Ratings

Users may post fake reviews or ratings to manipulate perceptions of services, products, or businesses. This deceptive practice may reduce brand credibility, leading to a decrease in online reputation. Content moderators help filter fake reviews or misleading content that may ruin the brand.

Role of Moderation in Maintaining Online Safety

Social media is the biggest benefactor of UGC. Most social media platforms rely on UGC for the majority of their content. This reliance on UGC makes the platforms more susceptible to threats associated with inappropriate content.

Content moderation in social media is the first line of defense against UGC-related risks to online safety. So, what does a social media content moderator do?

The primary responsibility of a content moderator for social media is the identification and removal of inappropriate content. Moderators review and assess UGC, removing content violating established guidelines.

Social media moderation services actively prevent the proliferation of content related to explicit materials, cyberbullying, or false information that endangers user safety. Content moderation goes beyond ensuring user safety. There is also a positive relationship between brand safety and content moderators.

Content moderation protects businesses from legal issues related to copyright infringement, data breaches, and identity theft. It also stops content containing malware, worms, and viruses from reaching users. Preventing possible legal issues increases brand safety, leading to more user engagement.

Other Types of Content Moderation

Companies can build an internal team for general content moderation or outsource the tasks to external providers for more specialized work, including:

  • Image Moderation

Image content moderation specializes in curating visual content. It prevents the spread of explicit or inappropriate images and graphic content.

  • Video Moderation

Video moderation focuses on reviewing and assessing user-generated videos. It ensures that the videos shared on the platform do not violate community rules and guidelines.

  • Text and Chat Moderation

Text and chat moderation refers to curating textual content, including comments, messages, and live chat, to prevent the spread of hate speech, offensive language, and inappropriate discussions.

  • Profile Moderation

Profile moderation focuses on monitoring user profiles to prevent impersonations and fake profiles. It also ensures user profiles align with the platform’s rules and regulations.

Content Moderation and Online Safety: The Road Ahead

Content moderation is crucial in maintaining online safety. However, such a responsibility is too great of a burden for moderators to shoulder alone. It requires active collaboration between moderators, users, and technology. 

Users should be mindful of what they share online. Meanwhile, human moderators should embrace the technological advancements that create more efficient and effective content moderation. AI moderators are reliable partners of human moderators, not their replacements. The collaboration between users, moderators, and AI technology can surely pave the way for a safer online space conducive to meaningful engagements and discussions.

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