Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions that Shape Social Media

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Yale University Press, 2018 - Business & Economics - 288 pages
A revealing and gripping investigation into how social media platforms police what we post online--and the large societal impact of these decisions

Most users want their Twitter feed, Facebook page, and YouTube comments to be free of harassment and porn. Whether faced with "fake news" or livestreamed violence, "content moderators"--who censor or promote user‑posted content--have never been more important. This is especially true when the tools that social media platforms use to curb trolling, ban hate speech, and censor pornography can also silence the speech you need to hear.

In this revealing and nuanced exploration, award‑winning sociologist and cultural observer Tarleton Gillespie provides an overview of current social media practices and explains the underlying rationales for how, when, and why these policies are enforced. In doing so, Gillespie highlights that content moderation receives too little public scrutiny even as it is shapes social norms and creates consequences for public discourse, cultural production, and the fabric of society. Based on interviews with content moderators, creators, and consumers, this accessible, timely book is a must‑read for anyone who's ever clicked "like" or "retweet."
 

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Contents

CHAPTER
1
The Myth of the Neutral Platform
24
Community Guidelines or the Sound of No
45
Three Imperfect Solutions to the Problem of Scale
74
The Human Labor of Moderation
111
Facebook Breastfeeding and Living in Suspension
141
To Remove or to Filter
173
What Platforms Are and What They Should Be
197
NOTES
215
BIBLIOGRAPHY
253
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
275
Copyright

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About the author (2018)

Tarleton Gillespie is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research New England and an affiliated associate professor at Cornell University. He cofounded the blog Culture Digitally. His previous book is the award‑winning Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture.

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