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
    btr1701 (profile), 14 Jun 2019 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: CDA 230?

    A good example is the word "literally", some use the word as though it meant "figuratively".

    Including the dictionary. (see definition 4 below)

    The ignorant have done to 'literally' what they did to the word 'decimate', which actually means 'to reduce by 10%'. This would leave 90% of whatever is being described intact, which means it really isn't a good word to use when describing something that's been all but wiped out. We already have a perfectly good word for that: 'annihilate'. But so many people-- including our industrious authors here on TechDirt-- incorrectly insist on using 'decimate' to mean 'annihilate' that the dictionaries have changed the definition of the word.

    literally - adverb

    1. in the literal or strict sense:
      She failed to grasp the metaphor and interpreted the poem literally.

    2. in a literal manner; word for word: to translate literally.

    3. actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy:
      The city was literally destroyed.

    4. in effect; in substance; very nearly; virtually:
      I literally died when she walked out on stage in that costume.

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