The Untold Story Of The Social Media’s Silent Heroes

From the point of view of a content moderation employee.

Mary Elaine
Dec 24, 2020 · 5 min read
Social media platforms
Social media platforms
Photo created by the author.

erhaps, you are wondering what it’s like behind curtains for every post, every tweet, and every story we publish and see on our social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms available out there on the internet. How does your one post stay on the platform but some posts or content disappear after minutes or hours within posting with no definite reason?

This is to relay to you the untold story of what we call, “Content Moderators” behind every social media platform on the internet we use and what exactly they do. They are, in fact, considered as the silent heroes not because they have superpowers, mantras, or spells to ward off hidden monsters, ghosts, or whatever evil events happening out there.

To take it simply, Content Moderators are the ones responsible for reviewing user-generated content published to an online platform with the help of certain guidelines. Regardless of the type of company they work for, they are there to make sure that the items/topics are being placed in the right category, free from scams or other illegal stuff and making sure to identify those content if they are safe for the people to view or not.

An honest experience from a Content Moderator

To be honest, I am a Content Moderator myself, and before I started out with my career, I discovered that there are things I didn’t even know existed and this is one of them. I’m kind of curious about the idea of getting to review content online and the process of it. I started out reviewing content that is acceptable in the platform such as, the location of the content posted, keywords that are relevant to the content being searched, and its results. You can’t simply expect that Artificial Intelligence alone can do this sorting right? Even in this modern-day internet world still needs capable human hands and minds to sort out things.

The next experience that I was able to moderate was borderline, highly sensitive, and violating content. I know you are curious to know what these are and here you shall have. Below are some of the examples in each category that I was able to work with.

Borderline

  • Fake News
  • Content with the depiction of rallying
  • Double-meaning sexualized poses on images

Highly Sensitive

Violating

  • Posts/Videos/Images that target a specific protected category with hate speech (race, ethnicity, religion, persons with disability/disease, nationality, etc.)
  • Animal cruelty and branding
  • Pornography and Human Trafficking
  • Child Abuse

There will be instances that when you scroll into your newsfeed, you’ll see contents that are mentioned above and find it disappeared the next few days or hours. It is not uncommon, I assure you, for we are filtering them before we finally delete them to the platform for safety. Some people usually assume that when the post cannot be found on the platform, it is, they say, automatically deleted, but what they don’t know is that it takes time to review and filter contents like these before they are finally removed from the site permanently.

What’s so great about working as a Content Moderator?

I’ve mentioned earlier that content moderators are regarded as the silent heroes behind social media platforms, and of course, the internet itself. The great thing about working as one is that we have the power to change and prevent unwanted content that can impact negative results like when a child of 13, upon scrolling down the newsfeed accidentally sees a horrid video of animal abuse or graphic sexual content.

The internet dwells on a 2-dimensional world and so one must not be complacent enough to trust fully in it. Advantages include unlimited resources of information about everything in this world with just one single click of the search button without you having to spend tons and tons of effort skimming through books and other references. Basically, everything you want to know lies on the internet. But what about its downside?

The disadvantages of the internet seem nebulous to some people that are not aware of the dangers lurking with it. Spams and hackers of all sorts exist and then there was sexual trafficking on children, teens, and adults alike. I remember one time when I was filtering, I received numerous cases of a child being raped and molested by her own uncle. What’s worse is that the mother of the child just consented to the horrendous act.

It is definitely a disgusting experience on my part during my very first time moderating this content but this is my job and so, I need to be committed to doing it, to do it seriously so that contents like these do not cause serious havoc on the internet. One thing I pride myself on doing this job is that when the content has been reviewed for permanent eradication, that serves as a reminder that I’ve done my best and saved a lot of internet users a great deal of stress, preventing them from seeing these horrible things.

How to cope with the stress of being a Content Moderator?

Breathe in, breathe out. I perform certain meditation practices to combat the stress caused by my job. We also have what we call, ‘Wellness Coaches’ to guide our psychological and mental state by scheduling and performing monthly and weekly wellness coaching sessions to check on how we are doing. For me, this is certainly a big help because I was able to vent out my frustrations and voice out my concerns whenever I’ve encountered a certain issue that totally blew my mind or is quite disturbing.

One time, I literally cried in front of my wellness coach because I can’t handle reviewing animal abuse. What I encountered the most are videos and photos of dogs and cats being beaten, wild animals like bears and tigers being starved inside cages, there’s even a recent animal abuse trending issue about a pregnant elephant that was fed with pineapple containing firecrackers and died along with her baby on India, I cried and couldn’t stop thinking about it even after my shift ended.

What my coach always tells me is that I should learn to differentiate what must only stay during work and what I should not bring when I get home. I shouldn’t be bringing work inside my personal life so as not to affect the conscious and subconscious mental aspects of my health. She let me cry and cry until all tears are shed.

What does it take to be a Content Moderator?

Personally, I would recommend that if you want to work in this kind of job, you have to be strong-willed with your emotions and should not be the type of person whose emotions are easy to crumble. You will not just encounter spammy content here, but also tons of cruelty and abuse among humans and animals alike plus graphic sexual content so you need a better grip on yourself.

Another thing is that you should be able to handle and keep your emotions in check. It is futile when you plan on working with this job because you cannot control the content that you will be filtering as they are commonly random in the platform. Learn the art of meditation and the benefits it will bring to you once you start out as a content moderator.

ILLUMINATION

We curate outstanding articles from diverse domains and…

Mary Elaine

Written by

Ambivert by nature. A great lover of books and animals, especially dogs. Loves to write anything under the sun and into her heart’s content.

ILLUMINATION

We curate and disseminate outstanding articles from diverse domains and disciplines to create fusion and synergy.

Mary Elaine

Written by

Ambivert by nature. A great lover of books and animals, especially dogs. Loves to write anything under the sun and into her heart’s content.

ILLUMINATION

We curate and disseminate outstanding articles from diverse domains and disciplines to create fusion and synergy.

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