The Effects of Machine-powered Platform Governance: An Empirical Study of Content Moderation

He, Qinglai
Hong, Kevin
Raghu, T. S.
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With increasing participation in social media and online communities, content moderation has become an important part of the online experience. Volunteer moderators have been the essential workforce for platform governance. Recently, platforms move toward the technical and automated mode of governance. There is a growing concern over de-humanization and whether machines would lead volunteer moderators to reduce their contributions. We conduct an empirical study to examine the impact of machine-powered regulations on volunteer moderators’ behaviors. With data collected from 156 subreddits on Reddit, we found that delegating moderation to machines augments volunteer moderators’ role as community managers. Human moderators engage in more moderation-related activities, including 20.2% more corrective and 14.9% supportive activities with their community members. Importantly, the effect manifests primarily among communities with large user bases and detailed guidelines, suggesting that community needs for moderation are the key factors driving more voluntary contributions in the presence of bot moderators.
AI, Organizing, and Management, bot, content moderation, human moderator, platform governance, reddit
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