‘We Had To Remove This Post’ by Hanna Bervoets – The Content Moderator

 

‘We Had To Remove This Post’ by Hanna Bervoets      (2022) 134 pages         Translated from the Dutch by Emma Rault

 

This is a novel; I say that first, because otherwise you might wrongly guess that it is non-fiction.

In the novel, Kayleigh is a content moderator for an on-line social media platform called Hexa. A content moderator screens the livestreams, videos, photos, and text-only posts that are coming into the platform. Kayleigh is telling her story to Mr. Stitic who is, I suppose, a psychiatrist.

Is it OK to leave this up on the platform? If not, why not?”

With their cell phone cameras, people can now film just about anything. Acts of self-mutilation, animal cruelty, death threats, suicides, etc. The platform has these supposedly rigid guidelines as to what can be posted and what cannot be posted. However being a content moderator is a Hell of a job, watching all this stuff.

But how on earth were you able to stand it there under those conditions?”

I expect that by now most of the reputable sites err on the side of caution as to what they will post.

While this subject of content moderation is definitely of interest, I felt that ‘We Had To Remove This Post’ did not sufficiently turn this real-life account into fiction. Much of the novel centers around the love affair of Kayleigh and her fellow worker Sigrid and the effects that their job has on their love life. Kayleigh and Sigrid often sneak up to an empty work room in their office building between their work sessions. The other characters in this novel besides Kayleigh and Sigrid did not really come alive for me and remained little more than stick figures.

At the end of this novel is a list of the selected sources which the author used as research. Two of her sources are:

The Back End of Facebook: Eight Months in Hell”

Revealed: Catastrophic Effects of Working as a Facebook Moderator”

 

Grade:   C

 

 

 

5 responses to this post.

  1. The novel may not have worked… maybe the issue has just been hijacked for a soppy romance or a soppy romance has been tacked onto it to lure readers who otherwise wouldn’t be interested, but it is an important one. Increasingly we rely on people to filter out the most horrible things, and it takes a terrible toll on them, especially when it’s child pornography. I don’t know how they can bear it.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  2. Sounds like a book that held much promise but just didn’t deliver. Content moderators are moral arbitrators/gatekeepers and I really hope whoever they work for provides access to counselling.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Hi Kim,
      On Book Marks, it got 2 Raves and 2 Positives. It gets a 3.1 on Goodreads. That’s not a good Goodreads score, so I guess I’m not the only one who didn’t totally take to this novel.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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