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  1. When people have the freedom to create and post content on the internet, particularly anonymously, they do not always respect the rules and regulations of the websites on which they post, leaving other unsuspecting users vulnerable to sexism, racism, threats, and other unacceptable content in their daily cyberspace diet. However, content moderators witness the worst of humanity on a daily basis in place of the average netizen. This takes its toll on moderators, causing stress, fatigue, and emotional distress akin to the symptomology of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The goal of the present study was to explore whether adding positive stimuli to breaktimes-images of baby animals or beautiful, aweinspiring landscapes-could help reduce the negative side-effects of being a content moderator. To test this, we had over 300 experienced content moderators read and decide whether 200 fake text-based social media posts were acceptable or not for public consumption. Although we set out to test positive emotional stimulation, however, we actually found that it is the cumulative nature of the negative emotions that likely negates most of the effects of the intervention: the longer the person had practiced content moderation, the stronger their negative experience. Connections to compassion fatigue and how bestmore »to spend work breaks as a content moderator are discussed.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 7, 2023
  2. Content moderation is a critical service performed by a variety of people on social media, protecting users from offensive or harmful content by reviewing and removing either the content or the perpetrator. These moderators fall into one of two categories: employees or volunteers. Prior research has suggested that there are differences in the effectiveness of these two types of moderators, with the more transparent user-based moderation being useful for educating users. However, direct comparisons between commercially-moderated and user-moderated platforms are rare, and apart from the difference in transparency, we still know little about what other disparities in user experience these two moderator types may create. To explore this, we conducted cross-platform surveys of over 900 users of commercially-moderated (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube) and user-moderated (Reddit and Twitch) social media platforms. Our results indicated that although user-moderated platforms did seem to be more transparent than commercially-moderated ones, this did not lead to user-moderated platforms being perceived as less toxic. In addition, commercially-moderated platform users want companies to take more responsibility for content moderation than they currently do, while user-moderated platform users want designated moderators and those who post on the site to take more responsibility. Across platforms, users seem tomore »feel powerless and want to be taken care of when it comes to content moderation as opposed to engaging themselves.« less
  3. Live streaming is a unique form of media that creates a direct line of interaction between streamers and viewers. While previous research has explored the social motivations of those who stream and watch streams in the gaming community, there is a lack of research that investigates intimate self-disclosure in this context, such as discussing sensitive topics like mental health on platforms such as This study aims to explore discussions about mental health in gaming live streams to better understand how people perceive discussions of mental health in this new media context. The context of live streaming is particularly interesting as it facilitates social interactions that are masspersonal in nature: the streamer broadcasts to a larger, mostly unknown audience, but can also interact in a personal way with viewers. In this study, we interviewed Twitch viewers about the streamers they view, how and to what extent they discuss mental health on their channels in relation to gaming, how other viewers reacted to these discussions, and what they think about live streams, gaming-focused or otherwise, as a medium for mental health discussions. Through these interviews, our team was able to establish a baseline of user perception of mental health in gamingmore »communities on Twitch that extends our understanding of how social media and live streaming can be used for mental health conversations. Our first research question unraveled that mental health discussions happen in a variety of ways on Twitch, including during gaming streams, Just Chatting talks, and through the stream chat. Our second research question showed that streamers handle mental health conversations on their channels in a variety of ways. These depend on how they have built their channel, which subsequently impacts how viewers perceive mental health. Lastly, we learned that viewers’ reactions to mental health discussions depend on their motivations for watching the stream such as learning about the game, being entertained, and more. We found that more discussions about mental health on Twitch led to some viewers being more cautious when talking about mental health to show understanding.« less
  4. As more viewers become interested in watching authentic personalities as opposed to artificial, crafted performances, Twitch streamers have begun to discuss personal issues such as mental health to form a closer bond with their community. This paper seeks to further explore how a live streamer's choice in game affects their viewers' perception of their stream's content. We interviewed 24 Twitch viewers and found that the pace of the game a streamer chooses to stream is a key factor in what viewers expect to see during the stream. These expectations at least partially determine whether viewers want to hear conversations about mental health.