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), 14 Jun 2019 @ 8:35am

    Re: Gentle Reminder

    "The same twitter that determined "learn to code" was nazi hate speech"

    Did they? I can't keep track of the whining, there's so much of it. If true, maybe the guys who were doing that can code their own platform so that they don't fall foul of the one they were allow temporarily to use for free. Or, at least understand that there's a lot of other platforms that already exist and the best way to react would be to use one.

    Anyway, you're pretty dumb if you believe that there was either a human being involved in that action, or if you believe that it's possible to moderate a platform with 100% accuracy. Suing Twitter will not change this.


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