Does anything go in pursuit of scale?

Scale and content

How We Broke Democracy by Tobias Rose

Algorithmic moderation systems

Build content moderation from the start

  1. Don’t subvert content quality pursuing rapid growth. Eradicating questionable content, once it’s part of the larger system, will be damaging.
  2. Establish a clear policy for content since day one. There has to be a clear set of rules people can follow. It’s impossible to be objective, but at least, be transparent about the guidelines.
  3. Be straightforward about how the organization enforces the policy. Users should know how the system assess if a piece of content has infringed the platforms policy.
  4. Be impartial. It can’t happen that some users, due to their status or name, can upend the rules of the platform. The recent banning of women on Facebook is a good example of what not to do.
  5. Setup moderators early on. Moderators should raise problematic issues that the current policy doesn’t addresses.
  6. Under no circumstance allow moderators to make decisions if it’s not objectively supported by the policy.
  7. Update the policy on an ongoing basis. It’s impossible to capture all the nuisances of social conventions, so keep the guidelines alive. It’s a growing organism, like a newborn learning the rules of engagement.
  8. Implement self-policing mechanisms in the platform from day one. You will need them. No matter how good your moderators are, you need to build a system to allow users to bring the attention to specific issues.
  9. Build abuse detectors. As you platform grows, rogue elements will try to abuse it. You need to have ways of detecting these behaviors from day one. It’s easy to delay this until you’ve grown, but by then, the damage might be too widespread. Twitter bots or the FCC Net Neutrality probe are a good cautionary tales.
  10. Review the output of your abuse detectors regularly. These systems are autonomous and will make mistakes. You can’t build them and forget about them.
  11. Make sure your automated systems execute on new changes to the policy. A delay between one and the other can be problematic.

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Alex Barrera

Alex Barrera

Chief Editor at The Aleph Report (@thealeph_report), CEO at, Cofounder & associated editor @tech_eu, former editor @KernelMag.