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Does Social Media Content Require Moderation?

Social media has been a hotbed of debate as of late. With concerns over major data breaches and, in some cases, the removal of controversial posts and accounts, it seems that social media will never please everyone. However, according to recent studies, it seems that Democrats and Republicans often have very different views of what is considered controversial and what, if anything, should be removed from social media.

The study, conducted by Pew Research Center and released in early June 2019, highlights the differences of opinions between Democrats and Republicans. According to their survey, approximately 77% of Democrats believes that social media sites "have a responsibility to remove offensive content from their platforms." In contrast, only 52% of Republicans share in that viewpoint.

However, it is important to note that deleted content, in general, is not completely removed from the Internet. Archives still remain – although inaccessible to the public – for security reasons. This stored data is only retrievable via advanced computer forensics, which is usually completed during a legal investigation.

In fact, most data is vetted before its even posted. These automated algorithms run in the background of the most popular sites – including Facebook and LinkedIn – to try and detect any offensive content and automatically block it from posting to their servers. However, apart from being rather easy to circumvent, these filters often result in false positives or fail to detect offensive content in the first place.

While the statistics cited above are enough to illustrate how differently each group views modern social media, the study goes onto highlight a number of other stats.

For starters, 78% of respondents agree that "heated or aggressive" language tends to elicit a violent response – especially when spoken by elected officials and when they are specifically targeting specific people or groups. However, more Democrats tend to agree with this statement than Republicans.

There are also vast differences regarding the respect of other political parties. According to 78% of democrats, it is "very important" for an elected Republican leader to show professional respect and courtesy to Democratic officials. However, only 47% of Republicans feel the same.

However, it's important to note that some social media sites, including Facebook, are planning to strengthen their moderation in the future. They've already announced plans for an independent oversight board to handle appeals over any type of posted content – a move that should be finalized by the end of 2019.

Specifically, users who have had their Facebook posts deleted can appeal the deletion – directly to the independent body – to receive a thorough explanation of the situation. In some cases, users might be directed to review Facebook's community standards for further clarification. While there will still be some who disagree with their decisions, it's certainly a move in the right direction.

In the end, Pew's report polled more than 10,000 adults – including men and women – throughout the United States. To find out more information on this report, or to find details on any of their other initiatives, please visit their official website at {{|}}.


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