This post shares resources to navigate the utter MESS that online content moderation of nudity is proving to be. Why? ICYMI, in the summer my Instagram account got deleted, and I have been grappling with account deletions for months now (currently, my record is three in just a week on TikTok); big names in the pole dance community – from Carmine Black to Yung Pole Master – are having their IG accounts disabled; ‘naked’ users have been shadowbanned on Instagram for years; and do not get me started on the blanket, widespread moderation of sex work, which is wreaking havoc on too many people’s lives and livelihoods. As a content moderation researcher, I read, write about and cite a variety of resources and sources that have informed my understanding of content moderation of nudity and sexuality. It’s only fair that I share those sources with you, in this ‘rolling document / blog post’ so that you can keep on top of what’s affecting us.
This isn’t by any means a comprehensive list of resources on online moderation, and it’s not a monolith: I will keep updating this page as and when I have time, or when I receive feedback. Feel free to comment, email me or DM me with more resources to add!
- Posting into the void: studying the impact of shadowbanning on sex workers and activists, Hacking / Hustling
- An Investigation into Algorithmic Bias in Content Policing on Instagram, Saltyworld
- The Shadowban Cycle: an autoethnography of pole dancing, nudity and censorship, Dr Carolina Are (my paper)
- Sex in the shadows of celebrity, my latest paper with Professor Susanna Paasonen
- Where Did the Concept of ‘Shadow Banning’ Come From? Samantha Cole
- Instagram Now Demotes Vaguely ‘Inappropriate’ Content, John Constine.
FOSTA / SESTA resources
- What is SESTA/FOSTA? and Erased: The impact of FOSTA/SESTA, both resources by Hacking/Hustling
- The Lessons of FOSTA-SESTA from a former Content Moderator, Daisy Soderberg-Rivkin
- A new law intended to curb sex trafficking threatens the future of the internet as we know it, Aja Romano
- The Impact of SESTA/FOSTA and the Removal of Backpage on Sex Worker Health, Hacking Hustling.
Tech governance resources
- Facebook has an invisible system that shelters powerful rule-breakers. So do other online platforms, Robyn Caplan and Tarleton Gillespie
- Facebook’s VIP ‘Whitelist’ Reveals Two Big Problems, Cathy O’ Neil
- What can tech learn from sex workers? by Dr Zahra Stardust
- Leaked Documents Show Facebook’s Absurd ‘Breast Squeezing Policy,’ David Gilbert
- Victoria’s Secret Influence on Instagram’s Censorship Policies, Saltyworld
- A Blueprint for Content Governance and Enforcement, Mark Zuckerberg
- Who Writes The Rules Open Letter and my story backing this EU-focused digital rights campaign.
This is infuriating, and totally predictable. “In its struggle to accurately moderate a torrent of content and avoid negative attention, Facebook created invisible elite tiers within the social network.” https://t.co/ikOaHFQ7Vk— Tarleton Gillespie (@TarletonG) September 14, 2021
The thousands of moderators who judge our social media posts are making those snap judgments at a rate of once every ten seconds. It’s like the biggest implicit bias experiment ever – one that includes our every online utterance.— Daphne Keller (@daphnehk) May 10, 2018
Hidden agendas in content moderation – post-OnlyFans debacle resources
- Sex workers say ‘defunding Pornhub’ puts their livelihoods at risk, Thomas Fabbri
- Here’s What the New Mastercard Rules Mean for Adult Sites, Producers, XBIZ.
THREAD: there’s a lot of justifiable anger at OnlyFans right now for betraying the sex workers who made them rich. That’s justified. In the end tho, like most tech issues, the root of this problem is monopoly power. OF was running a business in a “store” they rent instead of own.— Evan Greer (@evan_greer) August 20, 2021
A lot of the mainstream press is misreporting the reason behind the OnlyFans porn ban, linking it to an unrelated article about trying to get more funding.— Gustavo Turner (@GustavoTurnerX) August 19, 2021
The reason actually given: the MasterCard rule changes prompted by Exodus Cry’s campaign against Pornhub. https://t.co/xZOxdBnLfu
I know a lot of you feel hopeless right now, but I watching this unfold, I want to contextualize a few things about the battle ahead.— Mike Stabile (@mikestabile) August 22, 2021
#1 Exodus Cry and NCOSE are scrambling: 95% of coverage about OnlyFans supports SWers. They didn’t expect this, and now want to shift blame. 1/ pic.twitter.com/2KwZ5j1nwI
Hi, good morning, particularly to the few hundred new people. I’m one of the first journalists to cover the intersection of sex work and tech, including anti-sex work politics and platform discrimination. But a lot of us have been thinking about this for a long, long time.— Melissa Gira Grant (on book leave) (@melissagira) August 20, 2021
- Double Standards in Social Media Content Moderation, Brennan Center Report
- To stop online abuse against women, we must reform digital spaces, Azmina Dhrodia
- Tech Policy Design Lab pilot: building solutions to tackle online abuse of women, The Web Foundation.
Account deletion resources
- Instagram bans popular pole-dancing blogger and activist, who says now ‘no one is safe’ with its sex policies, Viola Stefanello
- I was deleted by Instagram (my blog post).
- What Is a Flag For? Social Media Reporting Tools and the Vocabulary of Complaint, Kate Crawford and Tarleton Gillespie
- Content Moderation: Social Media’s Sexist Assemblages, Ysabel Gerrard and Helen Thornam
- The Politics of Platforms, Tarleton Gillespie
- Reimagining Social Media Governance: Harm, Accountability, and Repair, Sarita Schoenebeck and Lindsay Blackwell
- Disproportionate Removals and Difering Content Moderation Experiences for Conservative, Transgender, and Black Social Media Users: Marginalization and Moderation Gray Areas, Oliver Haimson, Daniel Delmonaco, Peipei Nie and Andrea Wegner
- Safe For Work: Feminist Porn, Corporate Regulation and Community Standards. Zahra Stardust
- Reframing Platform Power, José van Dijck, David Nieborg, and Thomas Poell.
- Custodians of the Internet, Tarleton Gillespie (now free to read and download here)
- Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism, Jillian C. York
- TikTok Boom: China’s Dynamite App and the Superpower Race for Social Media, Chris Stokel-Walker
- Sex and social media, Katrin Tiidenberg and Emily van der Nagel
- #NSFW: sex, humour and risk in social media, Kylie Jarrett, Susanna Paasonen, Ben Light
- Speech Police – The Global Struggle To Govern The Internet, David Kaye.
ICYMI: resources from this blog
- Interview About Social Media Nudity With The Obscenity Lawyer
- Instagram Quietly Admitted Algorithm Bias… But How Will They Fight It?
- Does Instagram’s verification process discriminate against nudity?
- In the sexy social media Wild West, users have no rights
- Pole dancing on TikTok and the implied nudity ban
- Petition update: sharing community experiences of moderation with big tech
- Updates on shadowbanning, nudity and ads on Instagram