Content Moderators: What They Do & Why They Are Needed

6 min read

Trust and safety are of the utmost importance to the people who use your platform, but how do you prove to your users that it’s important to you as well?

Frank L.
Frank L.
Published April 12, 2023

One way to do that is to create an online community that is safe, supportive, and enjoyable for everyone.

A designated content moderator can reduce the risk harmful content poses. Content moderators can help keep your users coming back because they'll trust that your platform is safe and inclusive. Moderators are trained to effectively search for and remove content that goes against your guidelines. And with automated content moderation tools, they can be even more efficient in their moderation efforts.

What Does a Content Moderator Do?

A content moderator's job is to make sure all user-generated content (UGC) on your platform is free of scams and illegal content and is not harmful to your user base. Content moderators review user-generated content in real time to make sure it meets your company's standards and community guidelines.

There are two ways to moderate content. They can be used separately or together.

  • Manual content moderation: A human moderator searches and filters through all of your content, looking for obscene, illegal, inappropriate, or harmful content. It's a pretty thorough process that can help catch subtle nuances or slang. But the downside is that it's much more time-consuming than an automated process, especially if your platform hosts a lot of UGC.
  • Automated content moderation: Artificial intelligence filters user-generated content to identify anything that needs to be taken down. AI helps teams optimize the process of content moderation. Using AI for content moderation helps make your platform safer by quickly identifying and addressing content that needs to be removed. AI is also getting better at parsing meaning from language, so it can be a good starting point if it's not in your budget to hire or designate a moderator.

The primary responsibilities of a content moderator include:

  • Content screening: A content moderator screens all user-generated content on your platform. They monitor all areas of your platform where user-generated content can be posted or published, including chat, comments, live streams, and community forums. If you use AI to moderate content, your moderator will oversee that process to make sure the moderation is accurate.
  • Applying company policy: Community guidelines and/or company policies outline exactly what kind of content or language is not permitted on your platform. A content moderator will need a deep understanding of those policies, so they know what content to remove and how to address bad actors.
  • Identifying new ways to moderate content: Content moderators are on the front lines of moderation, so they know how to make their efforts more effective. For example, your content moderator might recommend implementing new tools like AI to find content easier or recommend a more effective filtering function for developers to build. 

What Skills Does a Content Moderator Need?

A successful content moderator will have a basic understanding of what it means to screen content. They've either been a moderator before or have been an active participant in a moderated community.

For companies with a lot of content to moderate, your content moderator should have some experience in content screening. Content moderators should also be analytical, attentive, and detail-oriented.

Most content moderators have:

  • Experience screening content: This is the most important skill since it's the main part of a content moderator's job. Your content moderator has to screen a large amount of content and make important decisions about removing content that affects your brand and reputation with your customers.
  • Strong attention to detail: Content moderators have to read through a lot of content without skimming so they can identify harmful or illegal content on your platform. Having acute attention to detail can be beneficial so they don't miss anything.
  • Analytical skills: A content moderator's job is to analyze all content and figure out whether it's harmful or not. There will be some content where it's not immediately clear whether it goes against your company's guidelines. For example, someone may use slang words that are fairly new and aren't yet included in your guidelines as prohibited content. In this case, when the content moderator identifies a new term or new language that goes against community guidelines, they then work with the appropriate departments to update those guidelines. They would also be responsible for communicating guideline changes to the community.
  • Good time-management skills: This is especially true for content moderators who have to screen content manually. Content moderators must have the patience to screen through all of the user-generated content on your platform in a timely manner.
  • Linguistic experience: It's also helpful if your content moderator has linguistic experience or is multilingual, so they can screen content that's not in English or their primary language. Online platforms are available to people around the world, which means not all harmful or illegal content will be posted in English.

You may also want your content moderator to have skills specific to the type of content they'll be moderating. For example, if your platform hosts a lot of livestreams, it's helpful if your content moderator has experience moderating livestream events. 

Benefits of a Content Moderator in Product Development

Content moderators help you mitigate the risk of allowing user-generated content by creating a safe space for your users, protecting your brand reputation, and ensuring all content is compliant. 

Protects Your Brand Image & Reputation

A negative brand image can be costly. If your users develop a negative image of your community because you allow harmful content on your platform, you could lose customers and sales. A content moderator will protect your brand by making sure all content adheres to those policies and removing content that doesn't.

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Content moderators understand the ins and outs of your company's policies and culture, which means they have the best means of protecting your brand from scammers and other people trying to tarnish your brand. For example, if someone is pretending to be an employee and spreading false information about your company and product, your content moderator can find and remove that content. 

Creates a Safe and Enjoyable Environment for Your Users

If your platform starts allowing hate speech, bullying, and harassment, then people aren't going to use it. A content moderator will keep the user experience safe, enjoyable, and inclusive, so everyone can feel comfortable and confident using your platform.

Without a content moderator, your platform could turn into a free-for-all of bullying and harassment, making it unsafe for people to use. Content moderators will filter for specific harmful language, like racial or homophobic slurs or descriptions of violence. They'll respond to comments or close out conversations as needed. For illegal content, your content moderators may also be responsible for reporting that information to the proper authorities. 

Enforces Security & Privacy 

It's also important to protect your users' security and privacy while they use your platform. Part of your content moderator's job is to stay up to date on all compliance laws and regulations like GDPR and remove content that is not in compliance. This is especially important when you're running an educational platform where FERPA covers student privacy or a healthcare platform where HIPAA protects patients. Your content moderators look for any content that would violate these laws.

Content Moderation FAQs

1. What Is Content Moderation?

Content moderation is the process of reviewing and monitoring user-generated content to look for messages and content that go against your company policy and/or community guidelines. Content moderators look for harmful, illegal, spammy, or otherwise inappropriate content and remove it from your platform. 

2. What Skills Are Required to Do Content Moderation in Product Development?

The skills a content moderator needs vary depending on the type of platform you manage. For example, for a healthcare app, you may want to hire a content moderator who has experience moderating scientific or technical content and who has knowledge of patient privacy laws.

Some of the general skills a content moderator should have are:

  • Knowledge or experience with screening content
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Analytical skills
  • Good time-management skills
  • Linguistic experience

3. What Is an Example of Content Moderation?

An example of content moderation would be a Facebook content moderator removing a post in which a user tries to incite a riot — this type of content is prohibited on Facebook per their community standards and is illegal as well.

Automated Content Moderation Is a Resource Saver for Your Team

Your content moderators can save a lot of time by implementing automated moderation functions into their workflows, so they can more easily find and remove content that goes against company guidelines.

With Stream, your content moderators have a centralized moderation dashboard. Stream also enhances human content moderation by automatically discovering new variations of harmful content. Our Automated Moderation feature even adapts to your community standards and expectations with powerful machine learning models and configurable policies.

If you're interested in hearing more about automated moderation for your online community, contact us to learn more.

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