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Content Moderation on Internet Platforms

Research
Last Update 02/01/21

The purpose of this research will be to evaluate technology companies’ management of user-generated content, advertisements, and other third-party content to assess implications related to social capital.

Sector

Technology & Communications

Issues

Content Moderation

Project Status

Ongoing Research

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Project Overview

Project Objective

The purpose of this research will be to evaluate technology companies’ management of user-generated content, advertisements, and other third-party content to assess implications related to social capital.

Project Background

Technology companies are grappling with how to moderate user-generated content, political ads and other third-party content hosted on their platforms. The related issues, including terrorist content, disinformation and hate speech, are not captured in SASB standards, despite being potentially large value drivers and of increasing investor interest.

In this research project, SASB staff will:

  • Define what SASB shall consider as “content moderation” issues (removal of illegal or objectionable user-generated content, review of third-party ads or products, concerns regarding the mental health of content reviewers) and the industries/business activities to which they apply
  • Categorize content moderation issues through the lens of SASB’s General Issue Categories (customer welfare, product safety, employee health & safety, etc.)
  • Establish an initial evidence-based view on whether and how content moderation issues have a financial impact on relevant companies
  • Provide a recommendation to the Standards Board on whether to proceed to standard-setting

This project has an associated standard-setting project.


Project Status

  • Phase 1 - Initial Research
  • Phase 2 - Stakeholder Consultation
  • Phase 3 - Post-Consultation Analysis
  • Phase 4 - Ongoing Research
  • Phase 5 - Completed

Current Status

Research Project – Added to Research Program

Next Steps

In November 2020, SASB released a Taxonomy document outlining much of the research conducted during the course of this project. The project lead is currently consulting with market participants and conducting other research to supplement SASB’s understanding of content moderation issues across the tech sector.

As a result of this research project, in September 2020 the Standards Board approved the addition of a standard-setting project, titled Content Governance in the Internet Media & Services Industry, to the research agenda.


Published Documents & Supplemental Materials

Published Documents

Content Moderation Taxonomy, November 2020, PDF

Supplemental Materials


Board Materials & Decisions

Board Meeting Outcomes

Q3 2020

  • The Board approved a standard-setting project, Content Governance in the Internet Media & Services Industry, based on research conducted as part of this research project. The research project will remain ongoing.

Q2 2020

  • The Board reviewed a draft of the Taxonomy document prepared by staff and discussed potential implications on standard-setting.

Q4 2019

  • The Board discussed a new research project on Content Moderation on Internet Platforms.

Board Materials

For a full list of past and upcoming Standards Board meetings, as well as associated materials, please visit our Board Meetings Calendar & Archive.


The staff has prepared this summary for informational purposes only. Any Standards Board decisions are tentative and do not change current accounting. Official positions of SASB are determined only after extensive due process and deliberations.