The digital world is in a constant state of flux, and one of its powerful propellers is user generated content. Today, people are more likely to trust the opinion shared by people online rather than information provided by businesses and institutions. Read on to learn to find out what is content moderation.

Unimaginable quantities of text, images and video are being published daily — and brands need a way to keep tabs on the content that their platforms host. This is crucial for maintaining a safe and trustworthy environment for your clients, as well as for monitoring social influences on brand perception and complying with official regulations. 

Content moderation is the most effective method for achieving all of that. It helps online businesses provide a safe and healthy environment for their users. 

what is content moderation

What Is Content Moderation?

Content moderation refers to the screening of inappropriate content that users post on a platform. The process entails the application of pre-set rules for monitoring content. If it doesn’t satisfy the guidelines, the content gets flagged and removed. The reasons can be different, including violence, offensiveness, extremism, nudity, hate speech, copyright infringements, and similar. 

The goal of content moderation is to ensure the platform is safe to use and upholds the brand’s Trust and Safety program. Content moderation is widely used by social media, dating websites and apps, marketplaces, forums, and similar platforms.

Why Is Content Moderation Important?

Because of the sheer amount of content that’s being created every second, platforms based on user generated content are struggling to stay on top of inappropriate and offensive text, images, and videos. 

Content moderation is the only way to keep your brand’s website in line with your standards — and to protect your clients and your reputation. With its help, you can ensure your platform serves the purpose that you’ve designed it for, rather than giving space for spam, violence and explicit content. 

Types of Content Moderation

Many factors come into play when deciding what’s the best way to handle content moderation for your platform — such as your business focus, the types of user generated content, and the specificities of your user base. 

Here are the main types of content moderation processes that you can choose from for your brand. 

1. Automated Moderation

Moderation today relies heavily on technology to make the process quicker, easier and safer. AI-powered algorithms analyze text and visuals in a fraction of the time that people need to do that, and most of all — it doesn’t suffer psychological traumas from processing inappropriate content. 

When it comes to text, automated moderation can screen for keywords that are deemed as problematic. More advanced systems can spot conversational patterns and relationship analysis too. 

As for visuals, image recognition powered by AI tools like Imagga offers a highly viable option for monitoring images, videos and live streams. Such solutions identify inappropriate imagery and have various options for controlling threshold levels and types of sensitive visuals. 

While tech-powered moderation is becoming more and more precise and effective, it cannot fully obliterate human review, especially in more complex situations. That’s why automated moderation still uses a mixture between technology and human moderation. 

2. Pre-Moderation

This is the most elaborate way to approach content moderation. It entails that every piece of content is reviewed before it gets published on your platform. When a user posts some text or a visual, the item is sent to the review queue. It goes live only after a content moderator has explicitly approved it.

While this is the safest way to block harmful content, this process is rather slow and not applicable for the fast-paced online world. However, platforms that require a high level of security still employ this moderation method. A common example are platforms for children where security of the users comes first.  

3. Post-Moderation

Post-moderation is the most typical way to go about content screening. Users are allowed to post their content whenever they wish to, but all items are queued for moderation. If an item is flagged, it gets removed to protect the rest of the users. 

Platforms strive to shorten review times, so that inappropriate content doesn’t stay online for too long. While post-moderation is not as secure as pre-moderation, it is still the preferred method for many digital businesses today.

4. Reactive Moderation

Reactive moderation entails relying on users to mark content that they find inappropriate or that goes against your platform’s rules. It can be an effective solution in some cases. 

Reactive moderation can be used as a standalone method, or combined with post-moderation for optimal results. In the latter case, users can flag content even after it has passed your moderation processes, so you get a double safety net. 

If you opt to use reactive moderation only, there are some risks you’d want to consider. A self-regulating platform sounds great, but it may lead to inappropriate content remaining online for far too long. This may cause long-term reputational damage to your brand. 

5. Distributed Moderation

This type of moderation relies fully on the online community to review content and remove it as necessary. Users employ a rating system to mark whether a piece of content matches the platform’s guidelines.

This method is seldom used because it poses significant challenges for brands in terms of reputation and legal compliance. 

types of content moderation
Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

How Does Content Moderation Work?

To put content moderation to use for your platform, you’ll first need to set clear guidelines about what constitutes inappropriate content. This is how the people who will be doing the job — content moderators — will know what to mark for removal. 

Besides types of content that have to be reviewed, flagged and removed, you’ll also have to define the thresholds for moderation. This refers to the sensitivity level that content moderators should stick to when reviewing content. What thresholds you’ll set would depend on your users’ expectations and their demographics, as well as the type of business you’re running. 

Content moderation, as explained in the previous section, can take a few different forms. Pre-moderation, or reviewing content before it’s published, is usually considered too slow for today’s user generated content volume. That’s why most platforms choose to review content after it’s gone live, and it gets immediately placed on the moderation queue. 

Post-moderation is often paired with automated moderation to achieve the best and quickest results.  

What Types of Content Can You Moderate?

Moderation can be applied to all kinds of content, depending on your platform’s focus – text, images, video, and even live streaming. 

1. Text

Text posts are everywhere — and can accompany all types of visual content too. That’s why moderating text is one of the prerogatives for all types of platforms with user generated content. 

Just think of the variety of texts that are published all time, such as:

  • Articles
  • Social media discussions
  • Comments 
  • Job board postings 
  • Forum posts

In fact, moderating text can be quite a feat. Catching offensive keywords is often not enough because inappropriate text can be made up of a sequence of perfectly appropriate words. There are nuances and cultural specificities to take into account as well. 

2. Images

Moderating visual content is considered a bit more straightforward, yet having clear guidelines and thresholds is essential. Cultural sensitivities and differences may come into play as well, so it’s important to know in-depth the specificities of your user bases in different geographical locations. 

Reviewing large amounts of images can be quite a challenge, which is a hot topic for visual-based platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and the like. Content moderators can get exposed to deeply disturbing visuals, which is a huge risk of the job. 

3. Video

Video has become one of the most ubiquitous types of content these days. Moderating it, however, is not an easy job. The whole video file has to be screened because it may contain only a single disturbing scene, but that would still be enough to remove the whole of it. 

Another major challenge in moderating video content is that it often contains different types of text too, such as subtitles and titles. They also have to be reviewed before the video is approved. 

4. Live Streaming

Last but not least, there’s live streaming too, which is a whole different beast. Not only that it means moderating video and text, but it has to occur simultaneously with the actual streaming of the content. 

	content moderation definition
Photo by Adam Satria on Unsplash

The Job of the Content Moderator

In essence, the content moderator is in charge of reviewing batches of content — whether textual or visual — and marking items that don’t meet a platform’s pre-set guidelines. This means that a person has to manually go through each item, assessing its appropriateness while reviewing it fully. This is often rather slow — and dangerous — if the moderator is not assisted by an automatic pre-screening. 

It’s no secret today that manual content moderation takes its toll on people. It holds numerous risks for moderators’ psychological state and well-being. They may get exposed to the most disturbing, violent, explicit and downright horrible content out there. 

That’s why various content moderation solutions have been created in recent years — that take over the most difficult part of the job. 

Content Moderation Solutions

While human review is still necessary in many situations, technology offers effective and safe ways to speed up content moderation and to make it safer for moderators. Hybrid models of work offer unseen scalability and efficiency for the moderation process. 

Tools powered by Artificial Intelligence, such as Imagga’s content moderation solution, hold immense potential for businesses that rely on large volumes of user generated content. Our platform offers automatic filtering of unsafe content — whether it’s in images, videos, or live streaming. 

The platform allows you to define your moderation rules and to set thresholds on the go. You can tweak various aspects of the automated moderation to make the process as effective and precise as you need.

You can easily integrate Imagga in your workflow, empowering your human moderation team with the feature-packed automatic solution that improves their work. The AI-powered algorithms learn on the go, so the more you use the platform, the better it will get at spotting the most common types of problematic content you’re struggling with.

You can use Imagga’s platform in the way that best fits your work — either in the cloud, or as an on-premise solution. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the hottest topics you’ll want to ask about content moderation. 

What does content moderation mean?

Content moderation is the job of screening for inappropriate content that users post on a platform. The goal is to safeguard the users from any content that might be unsafe or inappropriate and in turn might ruin the online reputation of the platform its been published on. 

How content moderation work?

Content moderation can be done manually by human moderators that have been instructed what content must be discarded as unsuitable, or automatically using AI platforms for precise content moderation. In some cases, combination of manual and automated content moderation is used for faster and better results. 

What are examples of content moderation?

Content moderation is essential when content needs to be delivered to minors. In this case disturbing, violent or explicit content needs to be carefully monitored and flagged as inappropriate. Content moderation can be applied to text, images, video and live streams.