Online chatting allows people to communicate in real-time, which can lead to wonderful conversations or harmful exchanges. That’s why implementing chat moderation is so important for any platform that offers live chat capabilities.
The Risks of Unmoderated Chat
While most chat participants have good intentions, there are always bad actors looking to cause trouble. Without proper chat moderation, online conversations can easily spiral out of control.
Racist, sexist, or otherwise offensive language has no place in civil discourse. However, trolls will often use chat forums to spread harmful rhetoric. This type of inappropriate content reflects poorly on the host platform and can quickly damage a brand’s reputation. If consumers see a chat moderation feature being misused for hate speech, bigoted remarks, or other uncivil behavior, they will associate that toxicity with the brand itself.
Chat bullies may insult, threaten, harass, or otherwise abuse other users. In some cases, this abuse is generalized, with trolls lashing out at anyone they engage with. In other instances, attacks may be more targeted, with an individual user singled out for bullying. This kind of severe online abuse can escalate to criminal behavior like stalking or blackmail in extreme situations. Victims of targeted chat harassment often suffer very real psychological harm from the experience.
If a brand’s chat feature becomes overrun with toxicity, its reputation will quickly nosedive. Consumers will see the company as complicit or negligent if they allow trolls and abusers to dominate the chat moderation. And in today’s hyperconnected world, word spreads quickly when a brand develops a reputation for hosting a haven for online toxicity. Customers will take their business elsewhere rather than engage with a company that permits an abusive chat environment.
Loss of Customers
Beyond general reputation damage, failure to moderate chat can also lead to direct loss of customers. If someone has a negative experience in an unmoderated chat, either through generalized abuse or targeted harassment, they may be unlikely to willingly return and engage with that chat platform again in the future. Over time this customer churn caused by unmoderated toxic chat rooms can add up to major revenue losses.
There are also potential legal liabilities for companies that enable abusive chat environments. Users who are harassed may decide to pursue legal action if they feel the platform operators did not do enough to protect them. And in some cases, law enforcement may even get involved if criminal threats or stalking behavior occurs in an unmoderated chat. Taking proactive steps to moderate live chat features can help minimize a brand’s legal risks.
Implementing Effective Chat Moderation
Protecting your chat platform requires a multilayered approach to chat moderation. Here are some best practices to consider:
AI-powered software can automatically screen conversations in real-time for offensive language, threats, harassment, inappropriate sexual advances, and other policy violations. This allows platforms to proactively moderate content at scale even when chat volumes are high. Advanced algorithms go beyond simply screening for profanity by evaluating the contextual nuances of conversation.
As capable as automated moderation tools are, they still are not perfect. Human moderators continue to play a vital role by adding nuance through evaluating contextual meaning and intent. The manual review also provides an avenue to address user complaints about unfair or overly aggressive automated filtering. Combining AI screening with human oversight provides the most effective and balanced approach to chat moderation.
Empowering users to report abusive chatters can be an effective supplement to AI and human moderation. Giving users this ability helps make them feel invested in keeping conversations civil, and provides extra eyes to flag potential issues.
Moderators can then swiftly investigate user reports and take appropriate action, whether that be removing inappropriate messages, blocking abusive users, or banning repeat offenders. Community reporting builds trust while lightening the load on official moderators.
With live chat, moderation needs to happen immediately in real-time to be effective. Having enough staffing and the right mix of automated filtering and manual review tools is key to responding quickly enough to defuse toxic situations before they spiral out of control. Slow or inadequate responses enable harm, so investing in sufficient resources for swift moderation is essential.
As trolls become more creative in their tactics for evading filters to spread abuse, chat moderation systems must continually evolve as well. This means updating word blacklists, training machine learning algorithms on new data, and refining policies and procedures. Moderation is not a set-it-and-forget-it endeavor, but rather an ongoing battle to stay one step ahead of the abusers seeking to exploit platforms.
While it may be tempting to rely on crowdsourced or volunteer moderators in chat rooms, for the most effective and consistent moderation it is wise to invest in an in-house team of professionals. Well-trained and managed in-house moderators will have strong expertise in the nuances of your platform’s culture and norms. They will also be more accountable and consistent than volunteers in enforcing policies.
Why Chat Moderation Matters
Unmoderated chat poses serious risks ranging from reputational damage to real-world violence in some disturbing cases. That’s why implementing comprehensive chat moderation utilizing a blend of technological filters and human judgment should be a top priority for any platform that offers live messaging. With the right moderation model in place, brands can foster online conversations that are open and engaging while remaining responsible and respectful for all participants.