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Moderating Content for the Higher Good

This post is a part of a series of articles which addresses the daily tasks and responsibilities of our Group’s Admin Team. To see all of the posts on Admin responsibilities click here.

1. Introduction – The Power of Content Moderation

Content makes a big difference in our world. It changes peoples’ opinions and their outlook on reality. The content we are exposed to influences our feelings and emotions. Content, which is the most essential element of Media, has the power to makes people feel happy or sad, stressed or relaxed, fearful or courageous. Our exposure to different types of content may make us feel upset or inspired. It may spark violence or invoke calmness. Our exposure to Media content makes a big difference in the lives of everyone.

Content Moderation dictates what content we get exposed to. Thus, if content has such great force, then the power to Moderate content, in Social Media and also in other media channels, has an equally powerful force.

Content Moderation is is a conscious choice made by every media channel. The decision of which materials are filtered and which are highlighted, is subject to the vision of each media media, and reflects on the content moderation policies it adopts. Consequently, the lives of the public exposed to such content, and those who interact with them, is affected. Perceptions of reality and feelings are influenced. Opinions and decisions are changed. Our happiness is affected as well.

Every Media channel chooses its own vision, and accordingly it chooses its content moderation rules. A certain Media channel may choose to moderate content to highlight negative, violent or toxic content. Another Media channel, like ours, may filter content in a way that will leave the toxic content out, and feature only uplifting, positive and enriching materials.

An image shared in our Group. Cătălina’s View I London, UK. Uplifting!

Content Moderation is a strong tool that might be used to suppress and bully people, or to empower them and provide them with helpful tools for life. Decisions of Moderators have the power to lead, and also to mislead. The power to moderate content is great. How we use that power, for the worse of for the higher good, is in our hands.

In this article I will illustrate, discuss and provide further evidence to the Power of Content Moderation, first in our Group, and then in our general current world of Media.

2. The Power of Content Moderation in our Group

In our Community we do our very best to employ the power of Moderation for the higher good. My vision, through our Group and with the Members’ wonderful participation, is to highlight and give dominance to the loving, compassionate and positive side of our being, of our existence.

And indeed, our Community is a greatly successful in spreading positive and inspiriting values. We are experts in increasing happiness. How do we do that? We employ the Power of Content Moderation, for the greater good.

The comment was removed. The individual was blocked.
We prefer this type of content!

2a. What would happen if we stop moderating our Group?

As a general policy, each and every post submitted to our Group is reviewed and evaluated before publication by a Moderator, according to the Group’s rules. These settings, however, can be changed. Would we dare to do that?

Facebook’s Group Admin settings panel actually provides the option to the Admin of turning off the post approval feature. If that is done, all submitted posts would be approved and published automatically on our feed, right away, without any editorial discretion. So, theoretically, if we want to see what would happen if our Group had no Moderation, all we have to do is push that button. Would anyone like to date us to try?

This is a screenshot from our Group Admin settings panel. As show, the “All Group posts must be approved by an admin or a moderator” checkbox is ticked. If we turn off post approval, all pending posts would be approved and posted automatically.

Imagine what would happen, in a Group such as ours, with more than half a million people, from 165 countries, if everyone was able to share and publish whatever they wished, without any filtering or editorial supervision. What do you think the stream of content would look like without Moderation? Would the environment in such a Community be positive or negative? Welcoming or dismissive? Friendly or harsh? Relevant or irrelevant? Can you imagine??

The above post was declined, of course.

On the Admin Team, we sometimes play with that idea, just for the sake of effective illustration, to untick that checkbox and turn off the post approval feature. It would be the most effective way of showing the importance and power of our Team’s work of Moderation. However, we refrain from that, because we know very well the type of unwanted content that will conquer our feed, and we feel responsibility towards our Members and space. Without our work of Moderation, you would find that controversy, spam and disturbing photos would dominate our feed. We took on ourselves to provide a safe haven for our Members. We are the guardians of this space, and we take it seriously.

The comment was removed and the individual blocked.

2b. The Group’s rules reveal what Moderators prevent from our feed

Reading and analyzing the Group’s rules is another good way to understand what kind of content the Moderators save us from.

When the Group was first created, we had only 2 or 3 rules related to content. Things looked very different on the feed back then. Since those early days, based on Member feedback and experience, in order to give the Project the positive and loving feel that it currently has, over 60(!) rules of content were articulated and fine-tuned. The rules decide what is allowed into the Group and what isn’t.

This is definitely allowed! We are advocates for earth and nature. Heidi’s View I Namibia

Each and every one of our rules was developed as responses to content that we saw shared in our Group, and that was found to be inappropriate to our Project’s vision, positive vibes and loving nature. As time passes, as we respond to new types of content, changing realities, and evolving circumstances, we keep developing the rules accordingly.

The rules of the Group are the most important tools in the hands of our Moderators, through which we evaluate submitted content. These rules are the shield and protector for keeping our Group loyal to its positive vision.

For illustration, here are examples of some of the rules of our Group, which illustrate some of the types of content that we blockin:

“Rule 13
Discussions about Violent Events
Discussions about violent events are important, but there are other good places to have them. Here, it’s just not the place. Here we keep it positive and peaceful.

If we will remove this rule, plenty of violent events would be shared in our feed.

Rule 55
No Hate Speech, Bullying or Violence
Make sure everyone feels safe. Bullying of any kind isn’t allowed, and degrading comments about things like race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, gender or identity will not be tolerated. Mean and disrespectful communication is not acceptable.

Hate speech, bullying and violence has appeared often in our feed. We use this moderation rule to eliminated it.

Rule 56
No Swearing
Do not use swear words and offensive language on this Group.

We adopted this rule, only after seeing that people do swear, and we needed a tool to have such content removed.

A political comment, using offensive language.

Rule 12
No Politics
The Group’s causes & values relate to all of us, regardless of our political views. Political discussions are important too, but there are other good places to have them. Here, it’s not the place. Refrain from political comments.

Without this rule, there would be plenty of divisive political arguments in our Group. To be aligned with our vision, with this rule we are preventing that from happening.

An example to a political comment on the feed. Political discussions are important too, but there are other good places to have them. Here, it’s not the place. We ask Members to refrain from political comments. This comment was removed.

Rule 14
Let’s stay positive
This environment is welcoming. When we can’t say something positive, we don’t say nothing at all. No arguments. Discussing controversies is important too, but here it’s just not the place. We keep it kind, safe & positive.

Definitely positive! Let’s just be kind to each other. Argentina’s View I Constanta, Romania

2c. Blocking individuals as a tool of Content Moderation

Group Admins and Moderators on Social Media have the ability to remove or block a member from a Group. This is another important tool that Moderators use to filter content. When we block a person from our Group, we are protecting our space from people who share undesirable types of content.

Everyone is welcome in our Group. In our Community, we block Members as a very last resort, where warnings have not been heeded. Blocking is used in the most extreme situations, such as severe and repeat spam, violence, posting of stock photos, commercial solicitation, swearing, hate speech, and so on.

The comment was removed and the individual blocked.
A screenshot from our Admin panel, showing the number of blocked Members. The dominant majority of them are organized spammers and bots, using fake profiles. We block these profiles as soon as we see them.

What would happen if we unblock all these profiles and let them penetrate the Group again? What content would appear? Can you imagine!? The power to block is another method used by the Moderator to influence the content in our Community.

This screenshot is an example of a comment that we had to deal with regarding our Group’s rule that states that swear words and offensive language must not be used here. The comment was removed and the individual blocked.

3. Examples of the Power of Content Moderation in the General World of Media

3a. Bad news dominates headlines due to the power of Content Moderation

Newspapers and TV broadcasts are filled with disaster, corruption and incompetence. How come? Why does that happen? Side by side with negative stories, our world is also full of good and inspiring stories to be told. So why are the Media Networks drawn to stories of negativity, pollution and horror? Why is the Media filled with this content?

Going into the economical and psychological considerations that make the newspapers and TV broadcasts let bad news dominate the headline, is beyond the scope of this post, but the bottom line is that it is a choice that those Media Channels are making. It is their editorial decision of Content Moderation, to leave the good news out, and let the bad news rule. Bad news dominating the headlines is a result of powerful Content Moderation policies. See how powerful content Moderation can be!

3b. The power of Content Moderation is also illustrated through Media political coverage

In the current era of Modern Society, we are all aware of the great power that Media Channels have over political public opinion. Various Media channels, all over the world, are often subject to allegations of bias.

For example, popular TV channels have often been the subject of allegations of party bias. Through conducted researches, there has been found disparate treatment by media channels of candidates from different political parties. Some TV programming tends to cast a negative light on candidates of one party, while other TV programming tends to cast a negative light on candidates of another party.

We all know, that when we follow the exact same political figure, or exacly the same story on different Media channels, we will find very different portrayals of the same. A political figure may be portrayed on one channel in an overly positive light, and another channel may be unfairly negative towards the same personality. One channel shows one perception of reality, and the other a different perception of reality. Why is that?

The answer Content Moderation! The Networks make conscious decisions of what gets in and what stays out, according to their own vision, which results in different presentations of reality in each of the channels.  The networks decide their Moderation rules according to their political, social or economical vision, and once the Moderation rules are applied to the incoming stream of content, it reflect on the things that we see through that channel’s window. Simple!

3c. Politicians and businesses are trying to gain control over Media channels

It is a world phenomena that politicians, as well as business forces, are trying to get hold of and gain influence over important channels in the Media. Sometimes, they even seek to own the Media. Allegations have even been made that politicians pay, or bribe, Media channels to gain positive coverage. Why is that?

When one gets control and influence over a Media channel, they gain control and influence over the Content Moderation rules, which makes a big difference with regards to the reality they are able to convey to the public. In this way, they are able to influence, according to their interests, decisions the public might make and opinions they might form.

4. Summary

We all know how the Media works. In our world, it’s clear that Media doesn’t operate objectively. They don’t just cover news, but they make it, and they do so with the Power of Moderation.

If we would like to keep positive vibrations and loving nature in our Group, we need to make sure that we have efficient manpower and policies for effectively moderating content on our Group.

Let’s all be cautious and thoughtful with regards to the type of content that we expose ourselves too.

Wonderful content on “What do you see from your window?”. Lacra’s Window I Washington. USA

What do you see from your window?

With love, stay safe ❤️

Arik

Arik Zara

By Arik Zara

I am Creator, Project Manager and Moderator of "What do you see from your window?". If you would like to learn more about me, here is a post of my life story in my own words, containing some interesting chapters of my life.

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