Sarah T. Roberts, Ph.D.


Sarah T. Roberts

Leading scholar on commercial content moderation, social media policy, and social media and society

Sarah T. Roberts, Ph.D. is an associate professor at UCLA (Gender Studies, Information Studies, Labor Studies), specializing in Internet and social media policy, infrastructure, politics and culture, and the intersection of media, technology and society. She is the faculty director and co-founder of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry (C2i2), co-director of the Minderoo Initiative on Technology & Power, and a research associate of the Oxford Internet Institute. Informed by feminist Science and Technology Studies perspectives, Roberts is keenly interested in the way power, geopolitics and economics play out on and via the internet, reproducing, reifying and exacerbating global inequities and social injustice.

Roberts researches information work and workers, and is a leading global authority on “commercial content moderation,” the term she coined to describe the work of those responsible for making sure media content posted to major commercial social platforms t within legal, ethical, and the site’s own guidelines and standards. She is frequently consulted on matters of policy, worker welfare, and governance related to content moderation issues and the broader social media landscape. She can be seen and heard in many news reports, interviews, podcasts and programs. Additionally, she has experience in industry as a consultant and researcher, most recently working as a Staff Researcher for Twitter in 2022.

Honors & Awards


100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics


International Scientific Honor society

Featured In

Mar. 7, 2023

Panel Discussion at UCLA Law School Institute of Technology, Law and Policy

Jan. 21, 2023

Panel Discussion at Staying on the Grid: Platforms, Psyches, and Paths

Recent Publications


Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media

The first extensive ethnographic study of the commercial content moderation industry. Yale University Press, 2019.

Based on interviews with workers from Silicon Valley to the Philippines, at boutique firms and at major social media companies, Sarah T. Roberts contextualizes this hidden industry and examines the emotional toll it takes on its workers. This revealing investigation of the people “behind the screen” offers insights into not only the reality of our commercial internet but the future of globalized labor in the digital age.

Illusion of Volition — A Blog

Derivative/Interpretive Works

Numerous art installations, art videos, stage plays, audio plays, novels, other works of fiction and other artistic works inspired by Sarah’s academic work have been created since 2015.