From AI to Human Moderators: Choosing the Right Content Moderation Service for Your Platform

Choosing the Right
UPDATED March 15, 2024
Written By Laniel Arive

Digital media has revolutionized the way online brands market their products and connect with their customers. It has made content moderation a pressing concern for online businesses looking to stay atop the competitive virtual market. Since then, companies have turned to all sorts of automated and human moderation (and combinations of them!) to ensure they’re one step ahead of their competitors.

But what is content moderation, and how is it vital to online platforms?

From startups to large enterprises, the digital landscape is a boundless commercial avenue. While it is good for customers to have a wide array of choices to buy from, it is not necessarily healthy for companies. Since users can just place them in multiple tabs side by side, it’s a must for online brands to step up their game to win the customer’s heart.

One effective way is to allow user-generated content (UGC) on online platforms. By encouraging them to share their insights and reviews, you can turn customers into brand ambassadors, spreading good words about your brand. However, the vast freedom of users to express whatever they want can also be detrimental. Without digital police, online users can upload deceptive or inaccurate posts that may harm others. Thus, companies rely on content moderation as a service to ensure their platform is safe from unwanted content.

However, given the vast pool of content moderation practices available today, from manual moderation to automated approach, how can we know which is best to implement?

Understanding Content Moderation

man with magnifying glass

Before we answer that question, it is crucial to define content moderation first.

Content moderation refers to screening and reviewing all types of content, such as text, images, and video. It safeguards web pages by filtering potentially harmful content. It also enforces community guidelines and penalizes online violators. Overall, content moderation is the frontline job of making the online environment safe for all.

How exactly does it work?

Traditionally, a human content moderator manually filters harmful content. However, due to the rise of technology, various content moderation tools were devised to automate the overall process. This includes Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies such as natural language processing and machine learning algorithms. From these two overarching moderation approaches, online platforms can resort to more specific methods.

Here is a quick rundown of different content moderation techniques:

  • Pre-Moderation 

This refers to reviewing and removing harmful content before it surfaces in the web interface. This technique guarantees that the platform is safe from inappropriate content, but it can slow down or disrupt online interactions.

  • Post-Moderation

This refers to monitoring of content after publication. Post-moderation takes down prohibited content when moderators encounter them on the platform. However, given the large number of online users, harmful content may reach them first before the moderators. Thus, it raises several potential risks, including offended users and bad publicity.

  • Reactive Moderation

Also called community moderation, this technique relies on user feedback and report mechanisms to flag inappropriate content. While this is very cost-efficient, this technique is a slow process. Thus, users are exposed to unwanted content.

  • Distributed Moderation

Similar to reactive moderation, this method also relies on the participation of online community members. In this technique, voting systems are employed where highly voted content is modified at the top of the page, while content with low votes or reported as a violation is hidden or removed.

  • Automated Moderation

This technique involves developing and implementing filters and tools that automatically detect potentially harmful content. Although this technique reduces the task of human moderators, it still needs human input to fine-tune AI tools and computer systems.

Human Moderation: When It Does and Doesn't Work?

man using laptop

Manual moderation employs a team of human content moderators to filter potentially harmful content. These moderators are trained professionals adept at evaluating the different types and nuances of online content. However, due to the changing digital landscape, human moderation has since faced the challenge of balancing its pros and cons.

Advantages

Unlike computer systems, human moderators don’t read content in black and white. Content moderators have a better grasp of language subtleties, such as slang, context, cultural nuances, and irony. Because they are more culturally attuned to the materials they review, they can generate more accurate moderation outcomes.

Accuracy in moderation decisions is vital because it reduces unnecessary content penalization. When appropriate content is flagged otherwise and taken down, this is a huge turn-off for online users who turn to digital media to share their insights.

Disadvantages

However, accuracy is only one of many factors to consider when implementing content moderation. Companies also need to consider scalability, speed, and operational costs.

In 2024, the number of social media users worldwide is poised to rise to 5.04 billion. This statistic alone can give you an idea of the unprecedented amount of UGC online, which is much more than what human moderators can handle. Or if a company opts to train more professionals to accommodate the number of content that needs moderation, it will be too costly.

AI Moderation: What Works and What Doesn't?

robot using laptop

Because human moderation can’t handle the vast amounts of online data, AI moderation has since taken center stage. It uses AI technologies, such as natural language processing and machine learning algorithms, to accelerate the content moderation process. However, this is not a perfect solution as it juggles pros and cons.

Advantages

AI moderation addressed human moderation's limitations in terms of scalability and speed. It enabled the efficient handling of vast quantities of UGC in real-time without compromising the quality of moderation results.

AI-based content moderation also reduces the exposure of human moderators to dangerous content. Because it employs filters that automatically flag harmful content, it alleviates the impact of disturbing content on human moderators, such as anxiety, trauma, and psychological stresses. 

Disadvantages

The pitfalls of AI moderation center around the ethical dilemma it grapples with. Because content moderation involves taking down inappropriate content, any mistaken decision is a violation of the user’s freedom of expression. Thus, the biggest setback of AI moderation lies in its lack of qualitative judgment and wide margins for bias and inaccuracy.

The intelligence of AI moderation relies on the heavy datasets it is trained from. Thus, when exposed to unrepresentative data, it can also be biased. When biases are not regulated, it can lead to unfair moderation outcomes, favoring a particular content subject over others.

The Merits of A Hybrid Approach

robot and human hands

Given the strengths and weaknesses of human and AI moderation, it’s not enough to choose one over another. You cannot just choose scalability and speed over accuracy or vice versa. This is where the hybrid content moderation approach comes into play.

A hybrid setup combines the strengths of manual and AI moderation approaches. It uses AI systems to speed up the flagging of unwanted content while leveraging the human ability to analyze content accurately.

Here are some of the merits of hybrid approach:

  • It bridges the gap between AI’s inability to detect nuance and human’s qualitative judgment.
  • It allows human moderators to address AI moderation's false positive and false negative results.
  • It upholds platform guidelines and user safety.
  • It handles large volumes of UGC at an incredible speed without compromising the accuracy of moderation outcomes.
  • It ensures effective and fair content moderation practices.

Facebook, a social media giant, is only one of the platforms that uses a hybrid approach to content moderation. It employs several steps of algorithmic and human review to deliberate whether a piece of content violates its community standards. However, this is not only applicable to social media. 

Hybrid content moderation also offers benefits to brands and businesses in the digital world. Because their lifelines depend on their customers, UGC is a basic unit of their platforms. Thus, it is imperative for them to employ content moderation services to ensure customer engagement and a satisfactory experience.

Making the Right Call with Content Moderation Outsourcing

hands pointing outsourcing

Implementing a hybrid approach is not as simple as it sounds. To maximize the benefits of AI moderation, you need to provide quality data training to AI systems and have access to updated technologies. All this while developing a team of moderators who can get the job well done. From recruiting and training to managing them, putting up an excellent content moderation team is a huge investment.

In sum, perfecting the hybrid setup involves substantial costs and risks. While large corporations can dig funds at a deeper well, this approach may be overwhelming to small enterprises and startups. This is where outsourcing services from a content moderation company come in.

Content moderation outsourcing refers to hiring third-party service providers to review, filter, and scan potentially harmful content in your platform. These firms are often armed with industry expertise and advanced technology to ensure your site is as flawless as it can be.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Content Moderation Service

man and woman holding puzzle

Here is the step-by-step process for choosing the right content moderation service suited for your business needs:

  1. Analyze Platform Needs

To streamline the moderating process, you need to be able to articulate your requirements to your outsourcing partner.

Here are a few things you should consider:

  • You need to know the types of content you’re working with. It is essential to determine what particular content moderation service is best for you. 
  • You must also gauge the volume of content that needs moderation. This includes the number of posts, chats, or comments that your platform handles. This is important for outsourcing partners to assess whether their capacity meets your moderation needs.
  • You must examine whether your content will require special domain knowledge or expertise in a specific industry. This is vital in tailoring content moderation solutions to your business needs.
  1. Evaluate Potential Partners

From a wide pool of potential outsourcing partners, you need to be able to choose the right one. Here is a little guide on how you can achieve that:

  • Research on their expertise
  • Ensure that your values and principles align
  • Examine how they treat their employees
  • Look at how they source and store user data
  • Check on their track record

These factors indicate their expertise and capability, guaranteeing that the services they provide are the moderation solutions you need. In short, ticking off all these checkboxes is a good sign that you are on the right path. 

  1. Make the Final Selection

The final touches in choosing the right partner must assure you that you’re making the right decision. It’s like taking a test drive before buying a car!

To do this, you can ask for a trial run from the content moderation platform you’re considering. This can be a pilot or small-scale project, such as moderating a batch of content for a specific time. This allows you to analyze the vendor’s capabilities before committing to a long-term relationship.

The Perfect Partner is Here!

robot and woman

Claiming that the combination of AI and human moderation is the best content moderation approach is one thing, but proving it is another. A hybrid setup is an ideal solution, but it needs to perfect two approaches and merge them into one. Gladly, this is exactly what Chekkee does!

Chekkee is a content moderation company that combines AI and human expertise to offer the perfect moderation solution. It is an ideal approach for brands and platforms looking to regulate harmful content and maintain a healthy online community. Remember, effective content moderation is a solid foundation to not just survive but also lead the competitive digital market.

Take your business to the next level. Contact us for more details!

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