Ground Control: Organizing Content Moderation for Social Media Platforms
Content moderation is key to operations of social media platforms and a large part of this work is outsourced to the global economy. While allowing for cost efficiency and accessing local labor skills and knowledge, outsourcing is generally characterized by indeterminacies in the production process. Moreover, it is complicated by the dynamic character of social media platforms with continuous changes in user activities and moderation policies. To limit these indeterminacies, technology firms such as Meta, Google, Twitter, etc., exercise direct control on the outsourced labor process. This not only results in asymmetric inter-firm relationships, but also reduces spaces for labor discretion and possibilities for skill development, given the highly standardized nature of moderation work. The analysis is informed by sixty-five interviews, ninety-nine survey responses, and three participant observations undertaken in India, and two focus group workshops with ten participants conducted in Germany.
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