Content moderators’ strategies for coping with the stress of moderating content online

Spence, Ruth ORCID logoORCID:, Harrison, Amy, Bradbury, Paula ORCID logoORCID:, Bleakley, Paul ORCID logoORCID:, Martellozzo, Elena ORCID logoORCID: and DeMarco, Jeffrey ORCID logoORCID: (2023) Content moderators’ strategies for coping with the stress of moderating content online. Journal of Online Trust and Safety, 1 (5) . pp. 1-18. ISSN 2770-3142 [Article] (doi:10.54501/jots.v1i5.91)

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Content moderators are exposed to a range of stressors at work, including analysing content that has been flagged as harmful. However, not much is known about their specific coping strategies. Depth interviews were conducted with 11 content moderators exposed to child sexual abuse material (CSAM) as part of their job, and thematically analysed to investigate both individual coping strategies and those deployed organisationally. Results highlighted the importance of social support especially from colleagues. Supportive relationships fulfilled several needs including helping content moderators process emotions, normalise their reactions and reducing feelings of isolation. Additionally, the ability to create boundaries between work and home life was important for distancing and distracting themselves from the work. Moderators expressed a preference for mandatory, individual therapy with professionals who had specific experience supporting those exposed to CSAM and reported disclosure was hindered if not, due to worries about traumatising the therapist. How content moderators cope and can be further supported are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Sustainable Development Goals:
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology > Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS)
Item ID: 37631
Notes on copyright: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (
Copyright (c) 2023 Journal of Online Trust and Safety
Journal of Online Trust and Safety, April 2023, page 1 of 18
© Stanford Internet Observatory, 2023
Depositing User: Ruth Spence
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2023 09:56
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2023 02:35

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