Content Moderation is Broken. Let Us Count the Ways.

Social media platforms regularly engage in “content moderation”—the depublication, downranking, and sometimes outright censorship of information and/or user accounts from social media and other digital platforms, usually based on an alleged violation of a platform’s “community standards” policy. In recent years, this practice has become a matter of intense public interest. Not coincidentally, thanks to growing pressure from governments and some segments of the public to restrict various types of speech, it has also become more pervasive and aggressive, as companies struggle to self-regulate in the hope of avoiding legal mandates. Many of us view content moderation as a given, an integral component of modern social media. But the specific contours of the system were hardly foregone conclusions. In the early days of social media, decisions about what to allow and what not to were often made by small teams or even individuals, and often on the…

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