Former Reddit CEO: Content Moderation Teams Don’t Care About Your Politics, They Just Want You To Stop Being A Jerk
from the basically-correct dept
Last week, about the same time I posted by giant post on all the things that Elon Musk didn’t understand about content moderation, former Reddit CEO Yishan Wong posted a really long, but completely worth reading thread about content moderation on social networks. I’m not going to go through the whole thing, but did want to point out some key points that are worth repeating.
As he starts out the thread noting, if Elon does take over Twitter “he is in for a world of pain. He has no idea.” That’s because almost everyone — especially techies — assume there’s some simple solution to the content moderation challenge. They’re wrong. What you’re trying to solve for with content moderation is human nature and societal level problems. And no one’s been able to solve those ever, and a guy building rockets doesn’t magically know how to fix those kinds of problems.
The key point that Yishan made (and which I also made in my post last week) is that many, many of the people in these companies — both at the executive decision making level and working on content moderation or trust & safety — don’t care about your politics and don’t want to touch your content. They don’t.
They DON’T CARE ABOUT POLITICS. They really don’t.
Donald Trump was not de-platformed for being right-wing.
I talk a bit about this in my thread about Omega Events: https://t.co/rktOKjr7ze
— Yishan (@yishan) April 15, 2022
While slightly simplified from reality, he notes that the people making these decisions just want you to behave and stop being a jackass. He says it’s about not “squabbling” but the squabbling is a result of people acting like jackasses, and it escalates.
They would like you (the users) to stop squabbling over stupid shit and causing drama so that they can spend their time writing more features and not have to adjudicate your stupid little fights.
— Yishan (@yishan) April 15, 2022
And, so, as he notes, if you don’t want to get moderated, stop being a jackass:
And, yes, he posts the perfect meme to explain how livid people get when they’re blocked, and I can assure you that, even on a small site like Techdirt, the following is true about the people who flip out when caught in our spam filter:
As he notes, the people screaming for open debate are not engaging in a civilized debate at all. They’re abusively spamming and harassing people they dislike.
There’s a lot more in the thread that is worth reading, so I’ll just leave it there and suggest you go read the whole thing. The only small thing I’ll push back on is this tweet, which claims that “there are no real principles. They are just trying to be fair because if they weren’t, everyone would yell LOUDER and the problem would be worse.”
There was a period of time when that was true — around the same time that Yishan was still at Reddit. However, in the eight years since he left, the whole trust & safety space has evolved significantly, and grown and professionalized to the point that many of the companies actually do have “real principles” that they use to set up their content moderation rules and enforcement.
The underlying concept, though, remains absolutely true. They just want people to stop being assholes all the time, and they’d like you to act nicer to one another, and they really, really, really want to treat people fairly.
The idea that there’s some grand conspiracy among these companies to silence this or that group is just not true. And no matter which “example” you name, I guarantee you, there’s another explanation for why that person or that piece of content was banned. And it might just be that it was being presented in a manner that was driving people crazy and causing more bad behavior. You can scream to heaven as loud as you want that your personal view on some controversial topic is the “right” one, or that you should be allowed to scream it, but if it’s creating a huge mess and causing more people to go even crazier, at some point, the website is going to cut you off.
The world would be a better place if people didn’t group up and become bigger and bigger assholes on social media. But, we’re not there yet, and Elon has no solution for that problem.