Tech

A Guide to Content Moderation, Types, and Tools


Digital space is highly influenced by user-generated content — as we all can see an unimaginable volume of text, images, and video shared on multiple social media and other online platforms/websites. With numerous social media platforms, forums, websites, and other online platforms in access, businesses & brands can’t keep track of all the content users share online. 

Keeping tabs on social influences on brand perception and complying with official regulations are essential to maintaining a safe and trustworthy environment. Objectives that aim to create a safe & healthy online environment can be achieved effectively through content moderation, i.e., the process of screening, monitoring, and labeling user-generated content in compliance with platform-specific rules.

Individuals’ online opinions published on social media channels, forums, and media publishing sites have become a substantial source to measure the credibility of businesses, institutions, commercial ventures, polls & political agendas, etc.

What is Content Moderation?

The content moderation process involves screening users’ posts for inappropriate text, images, or videos that, in any sense, are relatable to the platform or have been restricted by the forum or the law of the land. A set of rules is used to monitor content as part of the process. Any content that does not comply with the guidelines is double-checked for inconsistencies, i.e., if the content is appropriate to be published on the site/platform. If any user-generated content is found inconsistent to be posted or published on the site, it is flagged and removed from the forum.

There are various reasons why people may be violent, offensive, extremist, nudist, or otherwise may spread hate speech and infringe on copyrights. The content moderation program ensures that users are safe while using the platform and tend to promote businesses’ credibility by upholding brands’ trust. Platforms such as social media, dating applications and websites, marketplaces, and forums use content moderation to keep content safe.

Exactly Why Does Content Moderation Matter?

User-generated content platforms struggle to keep up with inappropriate and offensive text, images, and videos due to the sheer amount of content created every second. Therefore, it is paramount to ensure that your brand’s website adheres to your standards, protects your clients, and maintains your reputation through content moderation.

The digital assets, e.g., business websites, social media, forums, and other online platforms, need to be under strict scrutiny to ascertain that the content posted thereon is in line with the standards set out by media and the various platforms. In any case of violation, the content must be accurately moderated, i.e., flagged and removed from the site. Content moderation here serves the purpose – it can be summed up to be an intelligent data management practice that allows platforms to be free of any inappropriate content, i.e., the content that in any way is abusive, explicit, or unsuitable for online publishing.

Content Moderation Types

Content moderation has different types based on the types of user-generated content posted on the sites and the specifics of the user base. The sensitivity of the content, the platform that the content has been posted on, and the intent behind the user content are some critical factors for determining the content moderation practices. Content moderation can be done in several ways. Here are the five significant types of content moderation techniques that have been in practice for some time:

1 Automated Moderation

Technology helps radically simplify, ease, and speed up the moderating process today. The algorithms powered by artificial intelligence analyze text and visuals in a fraction of the time it would take people to do it. Most importantly, they don’t suffer psychological trauma because they are not subjected to unsuitable content.

Text can be screened for problematic keywords using automated moderation. More advanced systems can also detect conversational patterns and relationship analysis.

AI-powered image annotation and recognition tools like Imagga offer a highly viable solution for monitoring images, videos, and live streams. Various threshold levels and types of sensitive imagery can be controlled through such solutions.

While tech-powered moderation is becoming more precise and practical, it cannot entirely eliminate the need for manual content review, especially when the appropriateness of the content is the genuine concern. That’s why automated moderation still combines technology and human moderation.

2 Pre-Moderation

Content moderation this way is the most extensive method where every piece of content is reviewed before being published. The text, image, or video content meant to be published online is first sent to the review queue to analyze it for suitability for online posting. Content that the content moderator has explicitly approved goes live only after the necessary moderation.

While this is the safest approach to barricade harmful content, the process is slow and not applicable to the rapid online world. However, platforms requiring strict content compliance measures can implement the pre-moderation method for fixing the content. A typical example is platforms for children where the security of the users comes first.

3 Post-Moderation

Generally, content is screened through post-moderation. The posts can be made whenever the user wants, but they are queued up for moderation before they are published. Whenever an item is flagged for removal, it is removed to ensure the safety of all users.

The platforms aim to reduce the amount of time that inappropriate content remains online by speeding up review time. Today, many digital businesses prefer post-moderation even though it is less secure than pre-moderation.

4 Reactive Moderation

As part of reactive moderation, users are asked to flag content they think is inappropriate or breaches the terms of service of your platform. Depending on the situation, it may be a good solution.

To optimize results, reactive moderation should be used in conjunction with post-moderation or as a standalone method. In this case, you get a double safety net, as users can flag content even after it has passed the whole moderation process.

5 Distributed Moderation

Online communities are entirely responsible for reviewing and removing content in this type of moderation. Contents are rated by users according to their compliance with platform guidelines. However, because of its reputational and legal risks, this method is seldom used by brands.

How Content Moderation Tools Work to Label Content

Setting clear guidelines about inappropriate content is the first step toward using content moderation on your platform. By doing this, the content moderators can identify which content needs to be removed. Any text, i.e., social media posts, users’ comments, customers’ reviews on a business page, or any other user-generated content, is moderated with labels put on them.

Alongside the type of content that needs to be moderated, i.e., checked, flagged, and deleted, the moderation limit has to be set based on the level of sensitivity, impact, and targeted point of the content. What more to check is the part of the content with a higher degree of inappropriateness that needs more work and attention during content moderation.

How Content Moderation Tools Work

There are various types of undesirable content on the internet, ranging from seemingly innocent photos of pornographic characters, whether real or animated, to unacceptable racial digs. It is, therefore, wise to use a content moderation tool that can detect such content on digital platforms. The content moderation companies, e.g., Cogito, Anolytics, and other content moderation experts work with a hybrid moderation approach that involves both human-in-the-loop and AI-based moderation tools.

While the manual approach promises the accuracy of the moderated content, the moderation tools ensure the fast-paced output of the moderated content. The AI-based content moderation tools are fed with abundant training data that enable them to identify the characters and characteristics of text, images, audio, and video content posted by users on online platforms. In addition, the moderation tools are trained to analyze sentiments, recognize intent, detect faces, identify figures with nudity & obscenity, and appropriately mark them with labels after that.

Content Types That are Moderated

Digital content is made up of 4 different categories, e.g., text, images, audio, and video. These categories of content are moderated depending on the moderation requirements.

1. Text

The text shares the central part of the digital content — it is everywhere and accompanies all visual content. This is why all platforms with user-generated content should have the privilege of moderating text. Most of the text-based content on the digital platforms consists

  • Blogs, Articles, and other similar forms of lengthy posts
  • Social media discussions
  • Comments/feedbacks/product reviews/complaints
  • Job board postings
  • Forum posts

Moderating user-generated text can be quite a challenge. Picking the offensive text and then measuring its sensitivity in terms of abuse, offensiveness, vulgarity, or any other obscene & unacceptable nature demands a deep understanding of content moderation in line with the law and platform-specific rules and regulations.

2. Images

The process of moderating visual content is not as complicated as moderating text, but you must have clear guidelines and thresholds to help you avoid making mistakes. You must also consider cultural sensitivities and differences before you act to moderate images, so you must know your user base’s specific character and their cultural setting.

Visual content-based platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and likewise are well exposed to the complexities around the image review process, particularly of the large size. As a result, there is a significant risk involved with the job of content moderators when it comes to being exposed to deeply disturbing visuals.

3. Video

Among the ubiquitous forms of content today, video is difficult to moderate. For example, a single disturbing scene may not be enough to remove the entire video file, but the whole file should still be screened. Though video content moderation is similar to image content moderation as it is done frame-by-frame, the number of frames in large-size videos turns out to be too much hard work.

Video content moderation can be complicated when they consist of subtitles and titles within. Therefore, before proceeding with video content moderation, one must ensure the complexity of moderation by analyzing the video to see if there has been any title or subtitles integrated into the video.

Content moderator roles and responsibilities

Content moderators review batches of articles – whether they’re textual or visual – and mark items that don’t comply with a platform’s guidelines. Unfortunately, this means a person must manually review each item, assessing its appropriateness and thoroughly reviewing it. This is often relatively slow — and dangerous — if an automatic pre-screening does not assist the moderator.

Manual content moderation is a hassle that no one can escape today. Moderators’ psychological well-being and psychological health are at risk. Any content that appears disturbing, violent, explicit, or unacceptable is moderated accordingly based on the sensitivity level.

The most challenging part of content moderation is identifying has been taken over by multifaceted content moderation solutions. Some content moderation companies can take care of any type and form of digital content.

Content Moderation Solutions

Businesses that rely heavily on user-generated content have immense potential to take advantage of AI-based content moderation tools. The moderation tools are integrated with the automated system to identify the unacceptable content and process it further with appropriate labels. While human review is still necessary for many situations, technology offers effective and safe ways to speed up content moderation and make it safer for content moderators.

The moderation process can be scalably and efficiently optimized through hybrid models. The content moderation process has now been maneuvered with modern moderation tools that provide professionals with ease of identifying unacceptable content and further moderating it in line with the legal and platform-centric requirements. Having a content moderation expert with industry-specific expertise is the key to attaining accuracy and timely accomplishment of the moderation work.

Final thoughts

Human moderators can be instructed on what content to discard as inappropriate, or AI platforms can perform precise content moderation automatically based on data collected from AI platforms. Manual and automated content moderations are sometimes used together to achieve faster and better results. The content moderation experts in the industry, e.g., Cogito, Anolytics , etc., can hand out their expertise to set your online image right with content moderation services.

Pramod Kumar



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