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
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 Jun 2019 @ 8:25pm

    why haven't you brought your method to attention of these "platforms" which keep flailing?

    What works for one platform won’t necessarily work for another.

    all ya got yourself here is another anomaly of no importance

    One is an anomaly. Two is a coincidence. Three or more is a pattern. Considering how often bans/suspensions like this one happen on Twitter (and on other platforms), they are not anomalies.

    you won't stick up for those with substantive political views who get arbitrarily "de-platformed"

    What political views, dear sir, are they being banned for expressing?

    plaforms have a totally arbitrary RIGHT to do so

    They do. If you ran a blog for your political beliefs and had open comments on it, you could ban commenters for expressing beliefs that run contrary to yours. Nothing could stop you from doing so.

    You're [for] the act in principle, if it's taken against those you view as political opponents

    Prove it.

    common law

    Courts haven’t ever ruled that a platform must be forced to host every kind of legal speech. And you haven’t provided an argument for why a platform should be forced to host speech. Your citation of “common law” means nothing here.

    you're okay if it's for "hate speech". It's ONLY when YOUR goals are being thwarted that you object.

    Again: Prove it.

    Since you not only have no philosophical objection to the meat ax approach, but STATE repeatedly that "platforms" have a right to do so entirely arbitrarily, why are you wringing your hands, yet again, over remarks you state are of no importance?

    Because it shows an example of the impossibility of “perfect” content moderation at the scale of a site like Twitter. Given how people think moderation can be “perfected”, even at that scale, showing examples that prove otherwise offers a meaningful rebuttal to a worthless argument.

    your goal here is to try and prevent legislation that would require "platforms" to "moderate" in a neutral way

    For what reason should a Black Lives Matter forum be forced by law to host White supremacist propaganda for the sake of “content neutrality”?

    you also have the notion that these "platforms" are fundamental and absolutely necessary

    Once more with feeling: Prove it.

    cannot be regulated until they DO come up with "possible" system, let alone shut down

    Any government regulation of content moderation, up to and including the shutdown of a platform, would constitute a violation of the First Amendment.

    your real purpose with irrelevant anomaly is to guarantee corporate profits AND corporate arbitrary control of ALL speech

    …says the absolute asshole who wholeheartedly supports copyright maximalism, which would also guarantee corporate profits and arbitrary corporate control of all speech.

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