The Best Social Media Moderation Tools
Freedom of speech is both a used as well as abused concept.
It is understood as the right of individuals and groups to express themselves without fear of retribution. It is recognized as a basic human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and enshrined in the constitutions of many nations that have one.
Freedom of speech is such a fundamental concept that it could be interpreted to even mean that we have the freedom of speech to define what freedom of speech means.
Having said that, Article 19 of the UDHR states that “everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”
Perhaps to prevent, or at least guard against misuse, it is further qualified by stating that the exercise of these rights carries “special duties and responsibilities” and may “therefore be subject to certain restrictions” when necessary “for respect of the rights or reputation of others” or “for the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals.”
Regardless of the language the speech is in, even free or not, oWorkers has the skills to understand and handle it. With its policy of employing a multicultural and multi-ethnic team, it has developed the ability to provide services in 22 languages. It stands atop the BPO provider world, identified as one of the top three providers of data based services in the world.
Burgeoning content fuelled by social media
Social media has magnified the availability of content. Every person on social media is both a consumer as well as publisher of content. The days of publishing being the preserve of a few are passe. The teenager planning to meet her friends through a series of messages, the homemaker sharing pictures of her latest culinary achievement and the senior leaving a message for his grandson’s college graduation, are all publishing content on social media platforms. Nobody is telling them what to share and what not to share. Nobody is editing their content before it is available on the platform, widely accessible.
The easy access to publishing on a platform that has wide membership and usage is also attractive for people with their own agendas that might have scant regard for the policies of the platform, or the accepted norms of civil society. Thankfully these people are a small minority but create the need for the massive infrastructure around moderation that also fuels the need for social media moderation tools so that the processing can be done effectively.
Whether it is a hate speech inciting followers to violence against an identified group, or videos of graphic violence, or pornographic images, the process of moderation seeks to identify malicious content before it is able to do its dirty work.
Social media moderation can be defined as the process through which user generated content on social media platforms is managed in order to ensure that it adheres to the policies of the platform as well as accepted civil society norms.
The leadership team of oWorkers has over 20 years of hands-on experience in the industry and is able to guide the team to develop new skills. It is now a force to reckon with in content moderation, a service not even provided by BPOs over 15 years back.
Social media moderation tools for companies
As we know, companies have made a beeline for social media platforms, drawn by the presence of larger and larger numbers of present and prospective customers, and the prospect of a platform through which they could be reached relatively inexpensively as compared to traditional advertising. Of course, with platforms waking up to the revenue opportunity, the difference has gradually become smaller and smaller.
The need for companies to leverage social media stems from a continuous need for keeping their brands and products and services active and fresh and central to what is happening in the world. For this, they create communities and groups on social media platforms where their brand is the hero and the discussion happens around it. Once this conversation becomes organic, it requires less fueling by the company itself, and hence less resources, and does the work of promoting the brand on its own, with existing users looping in more and more new users through the platform.
Participation in these communities and the resultant content that gets created, and that companies seek to promote and generate, is known as User Generated Content (UGC). It is the elixir that all companies look for to keep their message alive and brand healthy. And why not? If I am interested in buying a product, will I trust what the interested party, the company that is selling it, has to say about the product, or will I trust the feedback of a user who has no stake in whether one more unit gets sold or not. The latter, obviously.
But creating platforms where such content can be generated, with obvious benefits, has attendant risks as well. Firstly, they are subject to the increasing volume of content, as platforms themselves are. That may not be bad in itself. But that burgeoning content also includes malicious, defamatory, unsuitable content as well, just like platforms. Hence, deploying social media moderation tools for keeping the web spaces squeaky clean has become a requirement for companies using social media for various purposes.
With its centers located in three distinct geographies, oWorkers provides the benefit of business continuity to interested clients. All its centers are equipped to operate 24×7. Clients from the US and Western Europe have lauded the fact that they save almost 80% of their pre-outsourcing cost once they outsource to oWorkers. Several unicorn marketplaces around the world trust oWorkers with their content moderation requirements.
Human beings as social media moderation tools
For better or for worse, the human brain remains a peerless organ. While mankind continues to seek automation as a means of saving labor, as well as ensuring adherence to guidelines and saving recurring cost of people, there are limits to what automation can do, despite the fact that the boundaries are constantly being pushed. Artificial Intelligence (AI) for example, that has been in development for many years, has now created another frontier, by getting machines to understand and act on unstructured information.
As far as the human brain is concerned, however, there is nothing that is beyond its pale. Before an activity is considered for automation, it is probably already being done by humans. Not that human performed tasks are without issues. Far from it. Humans think, and that is an issue in repetitive tasks. They make mistakes. Humans have emotions. Repetitive tasks can tire them out and lead to burnout. And they take money to maintain, as they need to be kept fed, clothed and housed at the very least.
Nevertheless, human beings have proved themselves to be indispensable, yet again, this time for the purpose of moderating UGC on social media. There are many ways this most intelligent of social media moderation tools can be deployed.
This is what is considered to be the ideal way of moderation, especially for web properties that are particularly sensitive to offensive content. The content submitted by a user is reviewed and, if found acceptable, authorized for publishing.
While it provides control over content, the process is resource hungry and can cause delays, leaving users dissatisfied. After all, if you are publishing content on social media, you want to see the result immediately. Conversation can become stilted as a result. Besides, it can be a nightmare doing this for a site that generates heavy traffic.
The ‘post’ in post-moderation can be understood in two ways:
- The moderation is done afterwards (‘post’ means after)
- The moderation is of a ‘post,’ of something that has already been ‘posted.’
The result is the same. The moderators attempt to play catch-up with the posts and remove the ones found offensive to the site. They also evolve smart search and monitoring criteria based on past experience so that they do not need to go through the full set and can do sample monitoring.
This provides a better experience to users, as their posts are visible immediately, but could allow some malicious content to be visible before it can be brought down.
This mechanism assumes all content is kosher unless identified otherwise by a user. Users and visitors are presented with a facility, like a Report button, through which they could express displeasure or highlight its inappropriateness. Different sites could do it differently. Once it has been flagged, the moderation team gets into the act and reviews the content for suitability and takes action in accordance with their findings.
It is not fool-proof, but it is inexpensive. It relies on the sincerity of the participants and the amount of ownership they feel for the site and to keep it safe and clean.
This method is also based on user inputs. It requires users to vote on the content they access and its suitability for the site, which could be in a variety of ways. The eventual result is that content voted down by users keeps going down in rankings, with the lowest ones becoming virtually non-existent or invisible.
This is a cost-effective method of moderation and may be suitable for sites that are less sensitive to offensive content, if perchance it is left visible.
Whatever the method adopted, oWorkers has the right resources for it, owing to its ability to attract the best talent, being a preferred employer in each of the locations it operates from. Its employees, both past and present, routinely rate it above 4.6 on a scale of 5 on platforms like Glassdoor.
The added benefit, which gets passed on to clients through the pricing mechanism, is the ability to provide up to 100 extra resources within 48 hours, to meet short term peaks in demand. Clients working with vendors who don’t have this ability, normally end up paying to retain additional resources on the bench.
Automated social media moderation tools
At some stage it becomes imperative to move beyond human processing and explore automation options. The drivers could be many; high processing cost, chronological processing by humans causing delays, propensity to deviate from set rules, errors or burnout. Imagine if an automated solution could handle pre-moderation. Pre-moderation is difficult because there is intense pressure to publish immediately, otherwise the contributor will get cheesed off and the conversation will flag. The reason delays happen is that a human can process one transaction at a time. Since content could be created anywhere, anytime, there could be loads of it waiting in the queue. Imagine if instead of humans, a smart automated solution, with the ability to process millions of transactions in a short period, say a second, could do it. It could solve many issues faced with moderation and UGC today.
If only machines could be taught to understand unstructured content.
The reason humans have been almost indispensable for the process is that the content that needs to be moderated is unformatted. With great effort humans have been able to make computers understand formatted content. Software code is a type of formatted content based on which a computer takes actions. But unstructured content is something else.
The content could be an image, or an audio file, or a video or just plain unstructured text, gibberish if you please. A human brain, with its fine sensibilities, can understand the content, but a machine cannot, unless taught how to.
This is where AI comes into the picture.
With AI, machines are learning to understand, interpret and act on unstructured content, be it text or audio or image or video. Through detailed training programs, computers are being taught to read/ see/ view the content and make connections with actions. For example, an AI solution for an autonomous vehicle might involve exposing the engine to a traffic light in all possible shapes and sizes and forms and connecting that ‘view’ with an action; move if green, stop if red.
The same thing is happening in content moderation. Automated solutions are making progress and, hopefully, will soon be doing the heavy lifting instead of humans.
It is to be expected that reliable social media moderation tools should:
- Be able to handle content in any format, including text, audio, video and images
- Be equipped to handle content of all types, including reviews, blogs, emails, comments, etc.
- Provide a dashboard facility where traffic can be monitored
- Allow automation of tasks where possible
- Have NLP capability to interpret audio files and establish perspective for textual information
- Permits delegation of specific tasks
- Have filters for profanity, vulgarity, pornographic content, violence, etc.
A large number of oWorkers clients are technology companies. These clients keep oWorkers honest and up-to-date regarding technology. oWorkers operates from super secure facilities that are ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified which ensures the safety of client data. It is also GDPR certified. For clients that require it, physical segregation of client workspaces is possible through the means of access control.