Do Platform Migrations Compromise Content Moderation?

  • Should we deplatform?
  • What happens after we deplatform?
Illustration of how things could backfire…
  • Concern #1: If users migrate to other communities within the same platform, their problematic behavior/content may also migrate to other communities (existing or newly created) within the same platform.
  • Concern #2: If users migrate to an alternate platform, the ban could unintentionally strengthen a fringe platform (e.g., 4chan or Gab) where problematic content goes largely unmoderated [9]. From the new platform, the harms inflicted by the toxic community on society could be even higher.

What we did

We focused on the case when users migrate (mostly) to a single alternate platform. This has happened with two prominent Reddit communities, r/The_Donald, which migrated to the standalone website thedonald.win (now patriots.win), and r/Incels, which migrated to the incels.co forum. Importantly, these migrations were “official,” in the sense that they had the backing of community leaders of the subreddit. In the case of /r/TheDonald, for instance, the community was locked for weeks, and the moderators managed to pin a post containing a link to the alternate platform.

Timeline of the deplatforming of r/The_Donald.
User-level effects of the migration in r/The_Donald.

So what?

Our analysis suggests that community-level moderation measures decrease the capacity of toxic communities to retain their activity levels and attract new members, but that this may come at the expense of making these communities more toxic and ideologically radical.

References

  1. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2013/11/alex-jones-americas-top-conspiracy-theorist.html
  2. https://www.vox.com/2018/8/6/17655658/alex-jones-facebook-youtube-conspiracy-theories
  3. https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/the-good-the-bad-the-semantically-imprecise-08102018
  4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackbrewster/2021/01/12/the-extremists-conspiracy-theorists-and-conservative-stars-banned-from-social-media-following-the-capitol-takeover/
  5. https://edition.cnn.com/2021/09/01/tech/reddit-covid-misinformation-ban/index.html
  6. Almeida, V., Filgueiras, F., and Gaetani, F. Digital governance and the tragedy of the commons. IEEE Internet Computing (2020).
  7. Chandrasekharan, E., Pavalanathan, U., Srinivasan, A., Glynn, A., Eisenstein, J., and Gilbert, E. You can’t stay here: the efficacy of Reddit’s 2015 ban examined through hate speech. In Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction (CSCW) (2017).
  8. Saleem, H. M., and Ruths, D. The aftermath of disbanding an online hateful community. arXiv:1804.07354 (2018).
  9. Mathew, B., Illendula, A., Saha, P., Sarkar, S., Goyal, P., and Mukherjee, A. Hate begets hate: a temporal study of hate speech. In Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction (CSCW) (2020).

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