Algorithmic content moderation: Technical and political challenges in the automation of platform governance

Big Data and Society 7 (1):1–15 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

As government pressure on major technology companies builds, both firms and legislators are searching for technical solutions to difficult platform governance puzzles such as hate speech and misinformation. Automated hash-matching and predictive machine learning tools – what we define here as algorithmic moderation systems – are increasingly being deployed to conduct content moderation at scale by major platforms for user-generated content such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. This article provides an accessible technical primer on how algorithmic moderation works; examines some of the existing automated tools used by major platforms to handle copyright infringement, terrorism and toxic speech; and identifies key political and ethical issues for these systems as the reliance on them grows. Recent events suggest that algorithmic moderation has become necessary to manage growing public expectations for increased platform responsibility, safety and security on the global stage; however, as we demonstrate, these systems remain opaque, unaccountable and poorly understood. Despite the potential promise of algorithms or ‘AI’, we show that even ‘well optimized’ moderation systems could exacerbate, rather than relieve, many existing problems with content policy as enacted by platforms for three main reasons: automated moderation threatens to further increase opacity, making a famously non-transparent set of practices even more difficult to understand or audit, further complicate outstanding issues of fairness and justice in large-scale sociotechnical systems and re-obscure the fundamentally political nature of speech decisions being executed at scale.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,649

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Democratizing Algorithmic Fairness.Pak-Hang Wong - 2020 - Philosophy and Technology 33 (2):225-244.
Montesquieu on Moderation, Monarchy and Reform.Andrea Radasanu - 2010 - History of Political Thought 31 (2):283-308.

Analytics

Added to PP
2020-11-24

Downloads
39 (#297,305)

6 months
10 (#80,433)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?