It was my great pleasure to visit UCLA to deliver a talk on February 20th. The invitation from the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies (GSEIS) could not have come at a better time, in the midst of this brutal Canadian winter. A good combination of students, faculty from GSEIS and Labor Studies, gracious co-sponsorsof the talk, and GSEIS alums turned out for the event. I appreciated the engaged and lively Q&A, where a number of fascinating points related to commercial content moderation (CCM) were raised.
As we discussed various aspects of the practice and the segments of the industry, one student searched for job postings related to CCM (of course, none quite so overt as to mention it explicitly). In it, she discovered a number of desired skills related to taste-making: explicit reference to a potential employee’s good taste, “good eye” and so on. In this way, CCM functions not only in a gatekeeping role, but in a brand-building, identity manufacturing capacity, where what is permissible varies greatly depending on the intended audience of the content.
Another attendee brought up the role of sites’ up-vote/down-vote functions as a more overt, front-facing, user-controlled mechanism for CCM. This was a great point, although my research has revealed that sites often employ both this functionality (which engenders participation) and the stop-gap and far more predictable CCM, operating as a much higher-order mechanism to prevent various kinds of content from remaining on the site, if it makes it there in first place.
One attendee wrote up a very thoughtful summary of the talk, which I link to here. As always, I appreciated the opportunity to share my work with an interested group of people, and I found their observations and questions to be provocative and stimulating in furthering my work on this topic. Special thanks to Dr. Michelle Caswell and to doctoral student Stacy Wood for facilitating my visit.