What are the Different Types of Content Moderation?

OABPO Blog Team Published on October 8, 2014 Last updated on December 8, 2022

As a website owner, your goal is to make sure that the content on your website works for, and never against, your brand. Outsourcing content moderation is the best course of action you can take.

Understanding Content Moderation

Content moderation is the process of monitoring and reviewing user-generated content to ensure it complies with a set of predefined guidelines, policies, or community standards. It involves assessing text, images, videos, and other forms of content shared on various online platforms, such as social media sites, forums, or ecommerce websites.

The objectives of content moderation include:

content moderation depiction scared website visitor looking at laptop
  • Ensuring User Safety

    Content moderation aims to protect users from harmful, offensive, or illegal content that may incite violence, promote hate speech, or involve harassment or bullying.

    By removing or limiting the visibility of such content, platforms can create a safer space for users to engage and interact.

  • Upholding Community Guidelines and Policies

    Content moderation enforces platform-specific guidelines, terms of service, or community policies. It helps maintain a consistent set of rules that govern user behavior and ensures that content aligns with the platform’s values, preventing the dissemination of inappropriate or objectionable material.

  • Combating Spam and Scams

    Content moderation seeks to identify and remove spam content, including unsolicited advertisements, repetitive or irrelevant posts, or phishing attempts. By reducing spam, platforms can enhance the user experience and protect users from potential fraud or security threats.

  • content moderation spam fake news depiction cleaning material on laptop
  • Preventing Misinformation and Fake News

    Content moderation aims to curb the spread of false or misleading information by identifying and removing inaccurate or deceptive content. This objective helps maintain the credibility and reliability of the platform and promotes the dissemination of accurate information to users.

  • Protecting Intellectual Property Rights

    Content moderation helps prevent copyright infringement and protects intellectual property rights. Platforms monitor and remove unauthorized content, such as copyrighted images, videos, or text, to respect the legal rights of content creators and uphold copyright laws.

  • Fostering Positive User Experience

    By maintaining a clean and relevant content environment, content moderation contributes to a positive user experience. It ensures that users can easily find valuable and meaningful content while minimizing exposure to irrelevant, offensive, or low-quality material.

  • content moderation cultivating an inclusive community depiction paper dolls holding hands
  • Cultivating an Inclusive Community

    Content moderation aims to foster an inclusive environment by preventing discrimination, hate speech, or any form of content that marginalizes or excludes individuals or groups based on their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or other protected characteristics.

    It promotes respect, diversity, and equal participation within the platform’s community.

  • Complying with Legal and Regulatory Requirements

    Content moderation helps platforms meet legal obligations and comply with applicable laws and regulations, such as those related to privacy, data protection, child safety, or hate speech. It ensures that the platform operates within the boundaries of the law and protects both users and the platform from legal liabilities.

  • Maintaining Platform Reputation

    Content moderation plays a crucial role in maintaining the reputation and integrity of the platform. By swiftly addressing and removing inappropriate or harmful content, platforms can build trust with users and stakeholders, fostering a positive image and attracting a larger user base.

  • content moderation expert giving thumbs up using laptop
  • Adhering to Ethical Standards

    Content moderation seeks to adhere to ethical principles by promoting responsible and fair practices. This includes transparency in content moderation processes, clear communication with users regarding moderation decisions, and minimizing potential biases or unfair treatment.

These content moderation objectives work collectively to create a safer, more engaging, and trustworthy online environment for users while balancing freedom of expression with responsible content curation.

Exploring the Content Moderation Types

When tapping an expert to act as your community manager or moderator, however, it also pays to know what different moderation options you have.

Understanding the different kinds of content moderation, along with their strengths and weaknesses, can help you make the right decision that will work best for your brand and its online community.

Here are the most common types of user-generated content (UGC) moderation done by experts today.

  1. Pre-Moderation

    magnifying lens on laptop with books

    This kind of moderation prevents content from damaging one’s brand image before it gets any chance to do so. Content, including product reviews, comments, and multimedia submissions, strictly need approval from moderators before being published online and becoming visible to other users.

    You influence the users’ creation process, and they can still write whatever they want. However, you still have control over what can be published and deem what is harmful to the online community.

    Although it is the most popular type of moderation, pre-moderation also has its disadvantages. It can cause online discussions on your website to be less active since comments are not posted in real-time. The delay can slow down the pacing of the exchange of ideas among users. Users also don’t get to see their submissions right away, especially if your online community is rapidly increasing in size. Pre-moderating content works best for websites that want to protect their communities from legal risks and can manage high volumes of UGC.

  2. Post-Moderation

    content moderation analyst under umbrella under raining paper documents

    Moderating content after it gets posted is a good way to ensure that discussions happen in real-time. This type of moderation can keep online communities happy because of the immediacy of effects elicited by their posts. This is, therefore, best for websites with active online communities such as forums and social media sites.

    The best way to implement post-moderation is by replicating every new content in a tool where moderators can still opt to delete them after careful assessment.

    However, with a bigger community going through each piece of content may take time and can be difficult for detecting damaging ones. Making sure that your content moderation team is scaled in size according to your needs and improved digital tools that can assist them is the solution to this.

  3. Reactive Moderation

    businessman using policeman whistle

    The success of reactive moderation highly depends on how reliable the general audience is in reporting abusive or damaging content.

    This type of moderation operates on the principle that anything that should be flagged or removed from the website can be detected and reported by the users. That’s why this is not suitable for highly brand conscious sites where online users are not as meticulous and engaged.

    The increasing popularity of this practice can be attributed to its cost-efficiency. You save on labor costs and get to have a devoted team of users who can let you skip the strenuous process of going through each new piece of content. Instead, they immediately direct your attention right to potentially problematic areas.

  4. Community Moderation

    content moderation analyst pointing at post it notes

    Distributed moderation is done by implementing a rating system where the rest of the online community can score or vote for published content.

    Although this is a good way of crowdsourcing and making sure your community members become productive, it doesn’t guarantee much security. Not only is your website exposed to abusive Internet trolls, but it also relies on a slow self-moderation process that takes too much time for low-scoring harmful content to be brought to your attention. This type of moderation is only suitable for small organizations where member-controlled content moderation techniques can systematically be done.

  5. Automated Moderation

    laptop showing file records

    Automated moderation makes use of digital tools that detect predetermined harmful content automatically. Content moderation applications are used to filter offensive words or slurs, star the banned words out, replace them with accepted alternative forms, or reject the entire post altogether. The kinds of automated content moderation include:

    • Machine Learning-Based Moderation

      Machine learning-based moderation combines automated algorithms with machine learning models to analyze and classify user-generated content. These models are trained to recognize patterns, context, and potentially harmful content, such as hate speech or explicit material. As the algorithms learn and evolve, they become more proficient at identifying and moderating content accurately.

    • AI-Assisted Moderation

      AI-assisted moderation employs artificial intelligence (AI) tools to aid human moderators in the content review process. AI technologies can analyze large volumes of content, flag potentially problematic items, and assist in decision-making. This approach combines the strengths of AI in processing speed and efficiency with human judgment and contextual understanding.

  6. Adding a human touch to this type of moderation can provide the best result. People can understand context and if paired with processes that make filtering out UGCs more convenient, you can protect your brand from trolls and other harmful materials.

True, content moderation must be a priority when protecting your online community from harmful content. But you also need to be strategic in choosing which form of moderation will work best for you.

Knowing the pros and cons of these content moderation techniques is a good way to start planning how you can make your online platform a guarded avenue for your loyal brand supporters.

The Indispensable Human Element

content moderation depiction human analysts working with robot AI machine learning

While automation can play a significant role in content moderation, completely relying on automated systems without any human involvement is not recommended.

Content moderation is a complex task that involves interpreting context, understanding nuances, and making subjective judgments, which are areas where automated systems often fall short. There are several reasons why complete automation without human involvement is not advisable:

  • Contextual Understanding

    Automated systems struggle to grasp the intricacies of language, cultural nuances, and contextual intent. This can lead to misinterpretations and erroneous moderation decisions. Human moderators possess the ability to understand complex nuances and accurately assess content based on context.

  • Subjective Judgment

    Content moderation often involves assessing content against guidelines or policies that require subjective judgment. Automated systems apply rules in a rigid manner, lacking the ability to make nuanced decisions in borderline cases. Human moderators can exercise discretion and consider intent, historical context, and user impact, striking a balance between freedom of expression and maintaining a safe environment.

  • Adapting to Evolving Challenges

    The digital landscape is constantly evolving, with new forms of content and emerging risks. Automated systems may struggle to keep pace with these changes, leading to delays in detecting and addressing harmful content. Human moderators can adapt quickly, identifying emerging trends, and adjusting moderation strategies accordingly.

  • Addressing User Concerns

    Content moderation sometimes involves handling sensitive or emotionally charged situations where user empathy and support are essential. Automated systems lack the ability to provide the human touch needed to address user concerns effectively.

  • Mitigating Bias and Inconsistencies

    Human involvement allows for checks and balances to mitigate biases and ensure consistent moderation decisions. It also enables the development of diverse moderation teams, reducing the influence of any individual bias.

  • Error Correction

    Automated systems can make mistakes, and without human oversight, incorrect content removal or retention can occur. Human moderators can rectify such errors and provide a mechanism for users to appeal moderation decisions.

Why Brands Should Outsource Content Moderation

diverse content moderation team in outsourcing service firm office

With the exponential growth of user-generated content, the task of content moderation has become increasingly challenging. To effectively manage this crucial aspect of their online presence, more and more companies are turning to outsourcing. But why is outsourcing content moderation essential for companies?

  • Expertise and Specialization

    Outsourcing content moderation allows companies to benefit from the expertise of specialized service providers. These professionals have in-depth knowledge of content moderation best practices, industry standards, and the latest tools and technologies. By leveraging their specialized expertise, companies can ensure efficient and effective content moderation, protecting their brand reputation and user experience.

  • Scalability and Flexibility

    Outsourcing content moderation provides companies with the flexibility to scale their moderation efforts according to fluctuating needs. External service providers have the resources to handle varying content volumes, whether it’s during peak periods or special events. This scalability eliminates the need for companies to invest in extensive infrastructure and workforce planning, allowing them to focus on core business objectives.

  • Cost Efficiency

    Managing an in-house content moderation team can be costly and time-consuming. By outsourcing content moderation, companies can reduce overhead expenses related to hiring, training, and managing a dedicated team. Service providers offer cost-effective solutions, providing access to skilled moderators and advanced moderation technologies at a fraction of the cost, freeing up financial resources for other business initiatives.

  • 24/7 Coverage and Swift Response

    Outsourcing content moderation ensures round-the-clock coverage, even outside regular business hours. Service providers have dedicated teams available 24/7 to monitor and moderate user-generated content promptly. This rapid response helps companies address potential issues in real-time, minimizing the impact of harmful content and maintaining a safe online environment for users.

  • Multilingual Support

    For companies operating globally or targeting diverse audiences, multilingual support in content moderation is crucial. Outsourcing content moderation allows companies to tap into a network of multilingual moderators who can effectively moderate content in different languages. This ensures comprehensive coverage and accurate interpretation of user-generated content across various regions and cultures.

As online communities continue to expand and evolve, content moderation will remain a critical aspect of digital platforms’ success. Striking the right balance between freedom of expression and responsible content curation is an ongoing challenge, but by prioritizing user safety, trust, and quality, content moderation contributes to a more positive and enriching online ecosystem.

Still unsure what kind of content moderation your brand needs? As a full-suite outsourcing firm, Open Access BPO provides content moderation services that evaluate text and multimedia content for your web site or social media to help you maintain a pristine online reputation.

Reach out today to learn more about what we can do for your business.


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