Caring for the Internet: Content Moderators and the Maintenance of Empire
Keywords:Emotional labor, affective labor, empire, digital labor, content moderation, social media, globalization
Scholarly and journalistic investigations of content moderation have thoroughly documented its emotional impact on workers, but have yet to analyze moderation as care labor. Out of sight from U.S. and European consumers, content moderators are hired by third-party outsourcing firms primarily in the Philippines or India to remove offensive or violent content from internet platforms in order to preserve their profitability and users’ emotional well-being. Situating content moderation in the long history of domestic labor relations in the U.S., which were designed to support the expansion of imperial power, this essay proposes new ways of understanding the relationship between affective labor and the procedures of empire.