Cultural pitfalls for your content moderation strategy & how to avoid them

Language, culture, and internet laws have a huge impact on content moderation. But is your content moderation strategy helping you to stay on top of these things when your business operates internationally?

When in Rome…

Language, culture, and internet laws have a huge impact on content moderation. But how do you keep on top of these things when your business operates internationally?

There’s never been a better time to run an online business internationally. The ease of being able to do so is largely down to advances in technology. But it’s not unusual for technical capability to outpace cultural norms and government regulations; meaning that having a global reach brings problems of its own — particularly when your business model relies on user-generated content.

So how do you make sure that everyone using your service adheres to the given guidelines?

The short answer is: you can’t. You can clearly state your policies (over and over again –!) but it is harder to enforce them. Add the fact that different countries have their own laws (especially when it comes to online sales of weapons, medicines and animals) and that these laws are often open to interpretation, you begin to see the scale of the issue. And that’s even before we consider language barriers.

On top of all this, laws change or come into existence constantly as fresh issues surface and garner public attention. In 2016 for instance, India’s environment minister announced that he would hire cyber crime specialists to monitor online ads of wildlife items and in Germany politicians have proposed a fine to online sites of up to €50 million if they fail to remove hate speech.

Whether you govern a global platform or you run a niche international online marketplace, moderating content can be a tricky task. Consider how Facebook constantly comes under fire for its approach to content moderation. Who’s to blame for the fake news and revenge porn that’s posted? Can the platform be held accountable for the actions of its users? To what extent can an unsavory post be considered illegal? What even constitutes ‘unsavory’ and/or ‘illegal’?

Navigating the cultural waters

Context accounts for a great deal. When you operate across of lot of different countries (like Facebook) it’s easy to overlook cultural nuances. User habits, types of online communications, and the tone of communications can vary greatly between individuals — let alone nations. Consider humour: what’s socially acceptable in one country can be tantamount to treason in another.

In the UK, where irony is the default humour setting, a throwaway comment about wanting to ‘do away with’ all those responsible for the ongoing political upheaval could easily be written off as someone ‘venting’.

In the US however, if say, a Trump opponent posted a similarly tacit comment about wanting to ‘put an end to the administration’, that comment could in fact be deemed illegal (given that a threat against the President’s life is a criminal act in America).

In short, international content moderation is a multicultural minefield. The best way to tackle this is to work with those who innately understand the local customs, laws, and languages: which is why territory/country manager-moderators are an absolute necessity.

Cultural fluency is key

At Besedo, we have teams of native or cultural fluent moderators. As well as knowledge of each market, they can provide you with the insight needed to successfully adapt your platform or marketplace’s policies on a local level.

Ultimately, as a business, your customers come first. Understanding their needs, their buying habits, and the way they prefer to do business — while obeying the laws of their country — are the most important things you can do to ensure lasting success.

This is Besedo

Global, full-service leader in content moderation

We provide automated and manual moderation for online marketplaces, online dating, sharing economy, gaming, communities and social media.

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