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  • Writer's pictureEinar Sigurdsson

5 Best Practices for Helping Users Report Harmful Content

The digital landscape is changing rapidly worldwide. As the problem of harmful content continues to grow online, new laws are arising in multiple nations, aiming to better regulate platforms and urge them to improve content management. Mainstream forms of content moderation methods partially rely on user reports, which without sophisticated reporting interfaces and technologies, can cause problems for users’ ability to flag harmful content. Clunky reporting processes can run users and platforms alike into difficulties such as not being optimized for all languages, not being kid-friendly, or unclear policies.

In this article, we’ll explain 5 ways platforms can help their users report harmful content and maintain a safe community.


Stop the spread of abuse with better processes and technology

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1. Make reporting as easy as possible

Consider the design of your platform and how easy it is to find where and how to report harmful content. Make the reporting process clearly available somewhere within the post, so users can efficiently fill out a report.

Some platforms’ reporting process takes several steps to get through, oftentimes leading to a page informing the user that the reason for the report doesn’t conflict with the platform’s rules. Consider how you might allow for all user concerns to be spoken to.

For platforms with child-aged users, create an easier way for them to report content, and at the very least provide accessible ways to block content they may find inappropriate to circumvent false reporting.

2. Write clear community guidelines

Take a look at your community guidelines and fill in the gaps where necessary. Ensure platform rules are written in clear, concise language that’s easy for everyone to read, and translations are made available in multiple languages. Especially for the sake of the children on platforms, community guidelines should be easy enough that children can understand them.

Though many users post harmful content regardless of the platform’s rules, some users could be less likely to post harmful content if they first know it’s not allowed to avoid any issues with the platform, or the law, if the content is illegal.

When every user is well-informed of the content standards on a platform, they will know exactly what they should report and what doesn’t violate community guidelines.

3. Strictly enforce guidelines

It’s important to first set the standard for your users by enforcing the platform’s community guidelines.

When a platform’s guidelines are strictly enforced, the guidelines themselves are more clearly defined. Some users may not bother reporting harmful content if the platform itself has a history of mishandling reports and not promptly taking action on guideline-violating content.

4. Promote media literacy

Promoting media literacy can reduce the number of reports made about content that doesn’t violate the platform’s guidelines and pare down the workload of human moderators. Cultivate ways that your platform can teach its user base how to discern whether a post contains disinformation/misinformation or harmful content.

Have features that flag posts for possible misinformation and display a warning to users that the post may include misleading or potentially harmful information. This will keep users from spreading misinformation across the platform, warning them of interacting with it, and educating them on different forms of misinformation.

When users are aware of the types of harmful content that are permitted and prohibited on a platform, they are less inclined to flippantly report, which frequently results in reports where no harmful or guideline-violating content is present.

5. Leverage technology for content reports

Instead of relying heavily on user reports to find the bulk of harmful content, apply advanced technologies like hash technology and AI programs to your content moderation methods. The more you can automate the content moderation process, the less your users will be exposed to harmful content and need to report it.

One type of technology platforms can leverage is advanced hash technology. Hash tech allows platforms to identify duplicate content that has previously been reported and removed, distinguishing known content from visually unique material. Utilizing hash technology can significantly reduce the number of reports by circumventing harmful content re-uploads.


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