PRI Science Friday: The Invisible Humans Who Sanitize the Internet

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 2.19.57 PMOn Friday, March 10, I appeared on PRI’s Science Friday program to discuss commercial content moderation (CCM). Along with me was Rochelle LaPlante, who has been working on CCM via microlabor platforms such as Amazon Mechanical Turk for over 10 years. Of particular interest was a caller who dialed in from Iowa to talk about his own work experience as a CCM worker over the past six years. Followers of this site and my talks over the past seven years on the topic will know that my interest in CCM was first piqued when I learned of Caleris, an Iowa-based call center firm that has used “Outsource to Iowa, not India” as a tagline at various points over the years. In the world of CCM, being able to offer Midwestern people, along with their imagined attendant sociocultural positionality, as your internet gatekeepers sells -a concept I take up in my forthcoming book, Behind the Screen: Digitally Laboring in Social Media’s Shadow World.

If you’d like to listen to the segment, please visit the segment on the Science Friday page. You may also be interested in an article I wrote on CCM for the Atlantic that also went to press last week; it’s a good overview of what CCM is, and what the implications of these practices are.