The Role of Image Filtering in Shaping a Healthy Online Community

 In Online Safety, Social Networks

Digital citizenship, online etiquette, and user behavior involve many different tools of expression, from texting to photo sharing, and from voice chat to video streaming. In my last article, I wrote about who is responsible for the well-being of players/users online. Many of the points discussed relate directly to the challenges posed by chat communication.

However, those considerations are also applicable to image sharing on our social platforms as well as what intent is behind it.

Picture this

Online communities that allow users to share images have to deal with several risks and challenges that come with the very nature of the beast; meaning, creating and/or sharing images is a popular form of online expression, there’s no shortage of images, and they come in all shapes, flavors, and forms.

Unsurprisingly, you’re bound to encounter images that will challenge your community guidelines (think racy pictures without obvious nudity), while others will simply be unacceptable (for example, pornography, gore, or drug-related imagery).

Fortunately, artificial intelligence has advanced to a point where it can do things that humans cannot; namely, handle incredibly high volumes while maintaining high precision and accuracy.

This is not to say that humans are dispensable. Far from that. We still need human eyes to make the difficult, nuanced decisions that machines alone can’t yet make.

For example, let’s say a user is discussing history with another user and wants to share a historical picture related to hate speech. Without the appropriate context, a machine could simply identify a hateful symbol on a flag and automatically block the image, stopping them from sharing it.

Costs and consequences

Without an automated artificial intelligence system for image filtering, a company is looking at two liabilities:

  • An unsustainable, unscalable model that will incur a manual cost connected to human moderation hours;
  • Increased psychological impact of exposing moderators to excessive amounts of harmful images

The power of artificial intelligence

Automated image moderation can identify innocuous images and automate their approval. It can also identify key topics (like pornographic content and hateful imagery) with great accuracy and block them in real time, or hold them for manual review.

By using automation, you can remove two things from your moderators’ plates:

  • Context-appropriate images (most images: fun pictures with friends smiling, silly pictures, pets, scenic locations, etc )
  • Images that are obviously against your community guidelines (think pornography or extremely gory content)

Also, a smart system can serve up images in the grey area to your moderators for manual review, which means way less content to review than the two scenarios explored above. By leveraging automation you will have less manual work (reduced workload, therefore reduced costs) and less negative impact on your moderation team.

Give humans a break

Automated image moderation can also take the emotional burden off of your human moderators. Imagine yourself sitting in front of a computer for hours and hours, reviewing hundreds or even thousands of images, never knowing when your eyes (and mind) will be assaulted by a pornographic or very graphic violent image. Now consider the impact this has week after week.

What if a big part of that work can be taken by an automated system, drastically reducing the workload, and with that the emotional impact of reviewing offensive content? Why wouldn’t we seek to improve our team’s working situation and reduce employee burnout and turnover?

It is not only a business crucial thing to do. This also means taking better care of your people and supporting them. This is key to company culture.

An invitation

Normally, I talk and write about digital citizenship as it relates to chat and text. Now, I’m excited to be venturing into the world of images and sharing as much valuable insight as I can with all of you. After all, image sharing is an important form of communication and expression in many online communities.

It would be great if you could join me for a short, 20-minute webinar we are offering on Wednesday, August 22nd. I’ll be talking about actionable best practices you can put to good use as well as considering what the future may hold for this space. You can sign up here.

I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

Originally published on LinkedIn by Carlos Figueiredo, Two Hat Director of Community Trust & Safety

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