Sarah T. Roberts: Transparency and Accountability Still Needed From Social Media Platforms

UCLA IS associate professor interviewed on BBC's "Newsnight" for insights on online content moderation.

Sarah T. Roberts, associate professor in the UCLA Department of Information Studies, was recently interviewed on BBC’s “Newsnight” on the issues surrounding online content moderation. She discussed the challenges to platforms such as YouTube and Facebook, and the dilemmas of monitoring the content of billions of users.

“The first thing that we need is transparency and accountability from the platforms, and when we talk about content moderation in these commercial contexts… one thing that isn’t even clear to the world’s users and populace is, on whose behalf is this moderation being done,” Roberts said. “Is this moderation being done to appease a particular government? Is it being done to make a so-called market … happy? Is it being done to the benefit of the company that provides the service? In most cases, I would say the latter, and that really isn’t adequate anymore. But the biggest problem is that we have so little information on the internal rules and procedures that are followed or where in the world the work is being done.”

Roberts is sought-after source across print, television and online media, including The Guardian, WIRED Magazine, Al Jazeera America, TV Ontario, TRT World, El Mundo, The London Free Press, and The Los Angeles Times. She has served as a media consultant for Showtime, Netflix, Radiolab, and VICE. Roberts was also featured onscreen and served as a consultant for a documentary on CCM workers titled, “The Cleaners,” which premiered at Sundance earlier this year. In 2017, Roberts convened a first-of-its-kind conference on Internet content moderation, “All Things in Moderation,”  that brought together members of industry, academics, activists and moderation workers at the UCLA campus.

To view Professor Roberts on “Newsnight,” click here.