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Former Reddit CEO: Content moderation teams don’t care about your politics, they just want you to stop being a jerk

of basically correct department

Last week, around the same time I giant-posted about all the things Elon Musk didn’t understand about content moderation, former Reddit CEO Yishan Wong posted a very long, but definitely worth reading, thread about moderating content on social media. I won’t go into all the details, but I wanted to highlight a few key points that bear repeating.

As he begins the thread by noting, if Elon takes over Twitter “he’s in for a world of pain. He has no idea. That’s because almost everyone — especially techies — assumes there’s a simple solution to the content moderation challenge. They are wrong. What you’re trying to address with content moderation are human and societal issues. And no one has ever been able to solve them, and a guy who builds rockets doesn’t magically know how to solve these kinds of problems.

The key point made by Yishan (and which I also highlighted in my article last week) is that many, many people in these companies – both at the executive decision-making level and working on moderating the content or trust and security – don’t care about your politics and I don’t want to touch your content. They don’t.

Although slightly simplified from reality, it notes that the people making these decisions just want you to behave and stop being a jerk. He says it’s not about “bickering”, but that bickering is the result of people acting like jerks, and it’s escalating.

And so, as he notes, if you don’t want to be moderate, stop being a moron:

And, yes, he posts the perfect meme to explain how livid people get when they get stuck, and I can assure you, even on a small site like Techdirt, the following is true about people freaking out when caught in our spam filter:

As he notes, people who cry out for open debate are not engaging in civilized debate at all. They abusively spam and harass people they don’t like.

There’s a lot more in the thread worth reading, so I’ll leave it there and suggest you go read the whole thing. The only little thing I’ll push back on is this tweet, which claims “there are no real principles. They’re just trying to be fair because if they weren’t everyone would be screaming LOUDER and the problem would be worse.

There was a time when that was true – around the same time Yishan was still on Reddit. However, in the eight years since his departure, the entire trust and security space has evolved considerably, grown and professionalized to the point that many companies actually have “real principles that they use to set up their content moderation rules and enforcement.

The underlying concept, however, remains absolutely true. They just want people to stop being jerks all the time, and they wish you were nicer to each other, and they really, really, really want to treat people fairly.

The idea that there is a big conspiracy among these companies to silence this or that group is just not true. And no matter what “example” you cite, I guarantee there is another explanation why that person or content was banned. And it might just be presented in a way that drove people crazy and caused more bad behavior. You can shout to the sky as loud as you want that your personal point of view on a controversial subject is the “right one”, or that you should be allowed to shout it, but if it creates a huge mess and drives you even crazier of people, at some point the website is going to cut you off.

The world would be a better place if people didn’t band together and become bigger and bigger assholes on social media. But we are not there yet and Elon does not have a solution to this problem.

Filed Under: bias, content moderation, elon musk, politics, social media, yishan wong

Companies: reddit, twitter