Content Moderation Is Impossible: You Can't Expect Moderators To Understand Satire Or Irony

from the just-doesn't-work-that-way dept

The latest in our never ending series of posts on why content moderation at scale is impossible to do well, involves Twitter now claiming that a tweet from the account @TheTweetOfGod somehow violates its policies:

If you're unfamiliar with that particular Twitter account, it is a popular account that pretends to tweet pithy statements from "God" that attempt (often not very well, in my opinion) to be funny in a sort of ironic, satirical way. I've found it to miss a lot more than it hits, but that's only my personal opinion. Apparently, Twitter's content moderation elves had a problem with the tweet above. And it's not hard to see why. Somewhere Twitter has a set of rules that include that it's a violation of its rules to mock certain classes of people -- and that includes making fun of people for their sexual orientation, which violates Twitter's rules on "hateful conduct." And it's not difficult to see how a random content moderation employee would skim a tweet like the one flagged above, not recognize the context, the fact that it's an attempt at satire, and flag it as a problem.

Thankfully, in this case, Twitter did correct it upon appeal, but it's just another reminder that so many things tend to trip up content moderators -- especially when they have to moderate a huge amount of content -- and satire and irony are categories that frequently trip up such systems.

Filed Under: content moderation, god, irony, satire, tweet of god
Companies: twitter


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  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 14 Jun 2019 @ 7:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    More accurately, they're complaining that he was demonetized when YouTube itself admitted that he hadn't violated any of its rules

    ... after the first pass, but as this article demonstrates quite nicely just because a platform makes that initial judgement doesn't necessarily mean they were right(or actually put any effort into the initial review).

    If the finding from the original pass is to be treated as The Word Of God(pun absolutely intended) then that would mean that the tweet discussed in this very article was correctly found to be in violation of the rules, and it was a mistake for the company to reverse course after it was brought to their attention because the initial ruling couldn't possibly have been wrong.

    Also if you're going to make the 'he didn't actually violate the rules, YT was just pressured into bringing the hammer down on him' argument then it would seem to be trivial to turn that right around and suggest that the reason he wasn't found in violation on that first pass is because he runs a popular channel and YT didn't want to give the boot to someone that was good for business, violations or not, and it was only when public backlash started costing them more than they got from him that they demonetized him.


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