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. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
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    One Cheeseburger Away From Keeling Over, 13 Jun 2019 @ 7:57pm

    Content Moderation Is Impossible? You do it right here!

    Or are you today claiming Techdirt doesn't moderate at all? Your official position is that it's "the community". But I get confused because "Gary" (who's actually minion Timothy Geigner, aka "Dark Helmet") keeps claiming Techdirt DOES moderates.

    Anyhoo, my comments here get hidden, so by whatever system and by whoever, you must claim that Techdirt has sound practice, right? So why haven't you brought your method to attention of these "platforms" which keep flailing? -- You wouldn't charge them for it, either, with your notions of not protecting ideas and "sharing". You also have the IN to get attention. So I'm mystified why the Masnick system isn't in place...

    Now, all ya got yourself here is another anomaly of no importance, but you won't stick up for those with substantive political views who get arbitrarily "de-platformed", so what good are you?

    YOU state (in rare declaration) that plaforms have a totally arbitrary RIGHT to do so:

    "And, I think it's fairly important to state that these platforms have their own First Amendment rights, which allow them to deny service to anyone."

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170825/01300738081/nazis-internet-policing-content -free-speech.shtml

    You're NOT against the act in principle, if it's taken against those you view as political opponents, like Alex Jones or "conservatives" even when well within common law terms: you're okay if it's for "hate speech". It's ONLY when YOUR goals are being thwarted that you object.


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