Content moderation related to mental health is not so easy and social media platforms should not try to overdo moderation for them as well

Social media platforms are a refuge for many people out there; a place where they can pour out their hearts and the pains they go through in their personal lives. When it comes to content moderation policies of various social media platforms, there are three categories in which all posts are divided. The first category includes all the permissible posts that comply with the community guidelines, the second category includes the posts that are not allowed and are removed promptly. And then comes the third category, which includes posts that are in between both permissible and non-permissible categories. These posts are the most difficult ones for platform moderators to determine and place them in the right manner. Sadly, posts related to mental health and well-being often fall into this category.

WIRED recently carried out a small survey for one of their articles. They looked into 3496 public posts on Instagram that used the hashtag #depressed. All this data was collected over two days from March 2017. The first thing they noticed was that almost 15% of the users who had used the #depressed hashtag had done so while hiding their real identity. Their accounts had pseudo names and their pictures and other identity parameters were also either hidden or did not involve their real pictures and their real names.

Almost 76% of these users who used this hashtag posted humorous memes and inspirational content related to mental health. Using hilarious memes to address the ‘elephant’ in the room, i.e. depression, was one way that may go unnoticed by many people, even the content moderators. But it is actually quite significant because it shows the desire of these people who go through various mental issues like depression. They do not want to open up their feelings just like that. And they choose anonymity and humorous memes to express their real feelings.

A while ago, Facebook started to push people to reveal their true identities to curb account thefts, misinformation through anonymous or pseudonymous accounts, etc. But if we consider the feelings of people going through mental troubles, we may think that over-moderation of such content and over-enthusiasm of these platforms to reveal the true ids of these users can push them into a further darker abyss.

Then there were pseudonymous accounts that used aesthetically dark-themed pictures on their feeds with this hashtag or shared sad quotes which apparently looked like they were conveying a negative message. But even this kind of content should not be overly moderated by social media platforms and their darkness must not be compared with being dangerous.

Using this hashtag alone means that these people want this issue of mental well being raised and they want people to talk about it productively. So, these platforms need to look into this matter from their perspective too.


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