3 min read

📌 r/Games mods fight back

The week in content moderation - edition #20

Hello and welcome to this week’s newsletter,

Before jumping in, I wanted to flag an email newsletter that I came across this week from the Industry Association of Privacy Professionals (I didn't know there was one either) about content moderation. I don't know if it's any good (I haven’t received anything in my inbox yet) but if you’re reading this, it may be useful/interesting.

Are there any other moderation policy/platforms/online community newsletters that you read I should be subscribed to? Drop me an email - I’d love to get your recommendations.

Thanks for reading — BW


972 words of hope

What happens when you take a popular subreddit with 1.7m subscribers offline for a day to make a point? Accusations of virtue signalling, vile name calling and 450+ false user reports, that’s what.

That’s what happened this week when the mods of r/games closed it for April Fool’s to draw attention to the ‘condescending, dismissive, vindictive and pessimistic attitudes’ they see every day in their work to make the 88th largest subreddit a habitable place.

Their post, which runs to almost 1000 words and is worth reading in full, explains why they felt the need to stage such an intervention and outlines why April 1, a day when fake headlines spread wildly across the web making moderators' lives difficult, seemed like a good day to do it.

As if it was needed, they also set out the kinds of comments that they see on a daily basis (don’t spend too long reading, they’re horrid) and finish by linking to over 20 charities who make it their 'mission to represent and benefit those who still face their own challenges, obstacles and prejudices. It’s clear, as they say in a follow-up post the following day, that "this is, from the bottom of our hearts, real.”

Unsurprisingly, they got a lot of blowback. And, frankly, there are few internet communities where that wouldn’t happen.

But what was more telling was the tidal wave of support, praise and well-wishes the mods got for taking a stand against the minority of shitposters. The gallery of comments and messages they compiled is heart-warming to read: infrequent posters coming out to say ’it means a lot to me’, lurkers uncovering themselves to say ’thank you for taking a stand’ and folks generally saying ‘I’m proud of y’all’.

One particularly heart-warming post I found simply says: ‘364/365 days of the year I’m disappointed by the gaming community. Today was the first time in a long time I have been proud’.

Me too, anonymous user. More interventions from moderators like this and there’s hope yet.

Firing and hiring

A tough week for TikTok. In India, a court ruling asked the government to ban the video sharing app entirely while in the UK, a BBC investigation over three months found hundreds of sexual comments posted on videos posted by teenagers and children. If Facebook hadn't set such a high bar last year, you'd probably call it a PR crisis.

It’s no surprise to see then that they’re hiring for a Content Policy Manager based in Beijing as well as moderators and content reviewers based in London in a host of languages (Swedish, Polish, Italian, German, French and Arabic, Spanish etc).

The sooner, the better.

Not forgetting..

I’ve not got round to reading Bloomberg’s exclusive on the YouTube executives who ignored advice to focus on content moderation policy but it would be remiss of me to not include it here.

YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Let Toxic Videos Run Rampant - Bloomberg

Proposals to change recommendations and curb conspiracies were sacrificed for engagement, staff say.

Charlie Warzel’s NYT piece on YouTube feeds into an increasingly popular idea that growth (and greed) are at the heart of the problems social networks face right now

Big Tech’s Original Sin - The New York Times

Greed. It’s about greed.

Lots to enjoy and read in this Wired long read of Section 230, the US legislation that set the precedent for online platforms forgoing responsibility for the content on their site

The strange story of Section 230, the obscure law that created our flawed, broken internet | WIRED UK

In 1995, it looked as though we might be heading towards an internet where censorship and moderation ruled supreme. Then along came Section 230

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has called for a globally co-ordinated response to the Christchurch attack from governments and social networks. The question is: what does that actually look like?

New Zealand PM says Facebook curbs not enough

New Zealand PM says Facebook curbs not enough

Like Epic Games (March 5 edition), Google Stadia announced they will also be cracking down on trolling when it launches later this year

Google Stadia Will Insulate “Toxic” Gamers From The Rest Of The Platform - One Angry Gamer


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