UQ-IITD Research Academy featured at Freedom of Expression Scholars Conference, Yale Law School

12 Jun 2024

UQ-IITD Research Academy PhD candidate Tania Chatterjee presented her ongoing doctoral research on social media regulation at the 12th Freedom of Expression Scholars Conference, an annual event at Yale Law School. She was awarded with a US$2,500 travel grant from Yale Law School to facilitate her attendance. 

Her paper, co-authored by her PhD thesis supervisors, Associate Professor Agam Gupta (IIT Delhi) and Associate Professor Pradip Thomas (The University of Queensland), explored content moderation  the practice of screening online content which plays a pivotal role in structuring online speech. It is driven by both humans and Artificial Intelligence, and the research concludes that moderating decisions unfold in a socio-technical and economic assemblage.

‘However, there remains an information vacuum concerning the moderators' decision-making process. This paper is an attempt to contribute to the said knowledge gap by examining the questions: How do moderators decide whether content should stay or be removed from the platform? What is the decision-making process?’ said Tania Chatterjee.

Tania Chatterjee at Yale Law School (Image: supplied)

Ms Chatterjee’s research has focused on interviews with 13 content moderators in India. Presenting this work at the conference in Yale yielded important leads and feedback.

‘The primary finding of my research indicates that while content moderation decisions must ideally be based on platform policies, the practical implementation is additionally influenced by economic considerations  specifically, meeting daily targets.’

As I shared my work, I learnt about the annual Trust and Safety conference in the US that would offer industry exposure to my research. I was also informed of other academics who have been working on content moderation labour in African nations.’

Insights into the global nature of this issue emerged during the discussions around her paper, with the unionization power of content moderators also flagged.

‘This dialogue prompted my co-authors and me to reflect on how the relative invisibility of moderators  compared to gig workers like delivery personnel or cab drivers  creates obstacles to unionization and hinders effective bargaining for job security. These dynamics feed back into the decision-making processes within this context.’

Ms Chatterjee’s experience in Yale was professionally stimulating, and she enjoyed ancillary cultural experiences.

Beyond the conference, I had the opportunity to engage in a guided tour, attend ongoing art history classes at their gallery, and enjoy a stage play. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on campus and it definitely has a lot to offer students.’

Other opportunities to present and hear new research initiatives are available with the annual UQ-IITD International Symposium on 23 and 24 September 2024, hosted in-person at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi.

Interested PhD students and academics are invited to register their interest to attend and present.

Learn more about the Research Academy