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20230522 Automated Moderation Using AI to keep your app safe blog cover

How AI keeps content safe with automated moderation

May 31, 2023
Isabelle Hahn
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Any app experience can be a social one with messaging. And adding social features is proven to deliver growth in user engagement and acquisition.

With any social experience comes the responsibility of building a community that is safe for all your users. For any business, moderating millions of messages by hand can be a daunting task — which is why many apps are now moving to automated moderation.

Imagine: you can automatically filter unwanted content, protect sensitive information, and regulate words or offensive images. It could save your business a massive amount of time, and protect your staff and users alike from the darker side of the online world.

Here’s a closer look at the technology and reasons why you should consider deploying automated moderation in your app.

What is automated moderation?

In most cases, automated moderation refers to systems that scan UGC (user-generated content) and apply a set of rules created by the hosting platform.

For instance, some online communities automatically censor certain words that are deemed to be universally offensive. If a user tries to send a message or make a public comment that contains a banned term, the post is instantly removed.

Automated moderation can also apply to user management, such as limiting the number of messages any individual can post within a specific time frame, or freezing an account for a specific amount of time after repeat offenses.

With the introduction of AI, the capabilities of auto-moderation systems have been extended significantly. While these systems are still based on rules, they can now adapt to real-world scenarios.

The advantages of automated moderation

The advantages of automated moderation

There are multiple benefits of adopting automated moderation, particularly for startups with limited resources and businesses that want to scale a social platform:

  • Moderate more content — Without the help of auto moderation, platforms on the scale of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter simply wouldn’t be manageable.

  • Reduce the cost of moderation — By handling the majority of moderation automatically, you don’t need to hire as many human moderators.

  • Apply rules consistently — Human moderators sometimes make mistakes; by using automated systems, you ensure that rules and community guidelines are applied uniformly.

  • Preventative brand protection — Rather than taking down content that has already been posted, automated moderation allows you to intercept inappropriate content before it is sent.

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Types of auto moderation

To understand how these benefits might apply to your business, you first need to know the capabilities of automated moderation. Here are some of the key features you will find in most moderation solutions today:

Automated content flagging

Perhaps the most basic form of automatic moderation is content flagging. This is where your system detects content that potentially goes against your guidelines, and flags it up for human review.

Automated content flagging is used by every major social media platform today, covering text, images, and videos. Machine learning algorithms are used to detect content that may be deemed inappropriate. It allows businesses to detect the vast majority of inappropriate content, while still maintaining a human touch when it comes to applying the rules.

This is important, because users can quickly become frustrated by fully automated moderation that is a little overzealous.

Intent recognition and natural language processing

While language filtering can prevent users sharing offensive terms, it cannot detect the meaning of any given message. As such, users with bad intentions can simply remove specific words in order to bypass the filters.

The solution to this challenge is intent recognition or sentiment analysis. This is where your moderation system uses natural language processing algorithms to determine the intent behind every message and post, rather than simply looking for specific words.

When the system deems a message out of line, it can be automatically stopped and sent to the flagging system. Inevitably, some of these assessments will be incorrect — so human review is once again an important part of the process.

Image and video moderation

While textual messages can be interpreted automatically using natural language processing, images and videos require a different form of auto moderation.

Machine learning has a big part to play here. Up-to-date auto-moderation systems use computer vision to detect the contents of images and videos, and they can pick up harmful content in audio tracks. As with other types of content, inappropriate uploads can be removed or flagged automatically.

Pre-moderation and post-moderation

There are essentially two models for moderating content on any platform. Pre-moderation is where new content is screened before being posted. Post-moderation allows content to be uploaded before being checked.

In theory, pre-moderation is the better way to prevent users from sharing inappropriate, offensive, or illegal content. However, checking every post takes time, and that delay can completely disrupt the flow of a real-time conversation.

For this reason, post-moderation is often a better option if live chat is an important part of your app.

AI is the next step for moderating content

Thus far, most automated content moderation systems have relied on simple filtering. But as the scale of social platforms continues to expand, businesses are going to need new smart moderation tools in order to maintain healthy digital communities.

Both the cause and potential solution for these challenges is artificial intelligence.

In the coming years, generative AI like ChatGPT and MidJourney will allow users to create content much faster than ever before. There is no way that human moderators will be able to keep up without the assistance of AI automated content moderation tools.

Artificial intelligence is already providing some help in the form of natural language processing and automated image moderation. As datasets grow, these technologies are likely to become more accurate and reliable.

What’s more, AI can be trained to perform some of the tasks previously performed by human moderators. This takes some time, but the pay-off is a massive reduction in the amount of input required from your moderation team.

Automation of this kind could even improve the mental health of your workers. Studies show that moderators working on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube often suffer from PTSD after viewing the darkest types of online content.

For all the reasons mentioned, AI clearly has a large part to play in the future of moderation.

Ways to use automated moderation

Returning to the present day, how can you utilize automated content moderation in your app? Here are three key ways to deploy the technology:

Profanity detection

In any open forum, language that is likely to offend some of your users is best avoided. Chat platforms such as Sendbird allow you to set up profanity filters that can detect and remove hurtful comments automatically. If you prefer to assign chat moderation decisions to your team, you can also create a filter that flags up questionable posts for manual moderation. Our solution even allows you to create a dedicated dashboard for these tasks.

Community protection

On any platform where users can interact, you’re always likely to find scams and trolling. It’s just an unfortunate fact of life. What counts is how you deal with the problem.

The top priority here is to protect your users. Your app should make it easy for people to report unwanted conversations and block other users who are causing a problem.

Of course, reporting isn’t always enough. Users don’t necessarily realize when they are being lured into a trap, so it’s important to set up some preventative measures, as well.

Using Sendbird, you can create regex-based filters that can detect the standard formatting of key personal information — such as an email address or a social security number. If you’re concerned about the more vulnerable members of your community, you can prevent people sharing this kind of information through your app.

Enforce community guidelines

Effective online platforms don’t only moderate content to keep users safe. In order to provide a good user experience for everyone, it’s usually necessary to create and enforce some community guidelines.

Two common areas of concern for social networks and messaging services are self-promotion and spam. If these types of content are not kept in check, they can quickly make your platform unusable.

In order to reduce the incentives for posting such content, some communities ban link sharing. If you decide to go down this path, you can set up link detection quite easily in Sendbird.

You can also use AI to get ahead of unwanted behavior. When a user interacts for the first time, you can send them an automated message that includes the community guidelines you want them to follow. You could even send them a prompt to encourage a positive first interaction, such as introducing themselves or connecting with a friend.

Moderation AI + Chat API

If you’re going to add messaging features to your product, it’s essential to consider app moderation. Given the challenges associated with managing huge volumes of content, it makes sense to adopt a solution that has moderation built in.

With Sendbird’s Chat API, you can add messaging and social features to your app with minimal effort. Just as importantly, our platform provides a range of tools for moderating content, clamping down on hate speech, and improving user safety.

We’re also introducing new AI tools, such as chatbots based on ChatGPT, allowing you to automate various aspects of your user experience.

Want to give it a try? Sign up today for a free trial and see how easy moderation can be.

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