Spiral of silence and confusion with nicknames: what linguistic difficulties do moderators face?


Language, distortions and AI

First, a little theory. Language is simply a means of access to cognitive processes. In other words, it is language in particular that preserves human experience and cognition.

©Getty Images

It’s all about Context

Automatic moderation systems are also based on AI. Sometimes this is simpler AI, and at other times it is more complex and trainable. For pre-moderation, the cognitive side of language becomes the main stumbling block. The issue comes to a head at the moment when a system encounters meaning: a single word can have different semantic shades which are dependent entirely upon context.

Mexican striker Javier Hernandez wears his nickname ‘Chicharito’ on his shirt
©FIFA by Getty

Fully-free communities and self-censorship

It might seem that if there is no moderation within a community, allowing absolutely free speech to flourish, then users will feel free and maximally able to engage in self-expression. But in fact such things as self-censorship and a spiral of silence can kick in, making this less than true. When people find themselves part of a minority — even in an online community — they tend to hide their point of view so as not to be ostracized.



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