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
    PaulT (profile), 15 Jun 2019 @ 2:24am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "When he says "You have a basic human right to your opinion... unless you disagree with me", he's talking about Twitter users, not Twitter itself."

    That makes even less sense. Yeah, when you're exposing yourself to a global audience, some people are going to tell you you're a dick and to stfu. Some people might even genuinely wish to silence you. But, that's human nature, not people violating your rights.

    "Many users and their followers make sport out of reporting anything that people they don't like say"

    Yeah, that's wrong. But, speaking as someone who pirate a lot of VHS tapes back in the day because "moral guardians" decided they shouldn't be legally allowed, it's hardly new. If you deal with the public some will be assholes, and if you're big some will try to destroy you. Twitter could deal with this better, but at the end of the day this is like some guy getting you barred for a pub because he started a fight with you. It sucks, it shouldn't happen, but it's your own fault if that's the only pub in your life.


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