Live Streaming and Content Moderation: Why Are They Inseparable?

Published on May 8, 2021
Last Updated on August 25, 2022

Live streaming, be it video or audio, has become an integral part of the digital media landscape. In its simplest sense, live streaming enables creators to broadcast their real-time content over the internet. Celebrities use it to connect with their fans, gamers live stream their games, retailers leverage it to sell their products, and experts use it to converse in front of live audiences.

According to Market Research Future (MRFR), a global market research company, the live streaming market will reach $247B by 20271. Brands and creators shift to live streaming based on the benefits it provides.

Physical events may not be possible at the moment because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, but live streams can translate the fun physical events create into the digital realm, which explains its high level of engagement. Its inherent unpredictability creates a sense of authenticity and can hold users’ attention 10-20 times longer than pre-recorded videos. When users watch a live stream, they can interact with other audience members via chat or emoji reactions—social features that are now getting more integrated into social media applications2.

More importantly, live streaming allows companies to create an image of transparency because of the real-time interaction. In an era where consumers put a premium on authenticity, companies must create an avenue where customers’ questions are addressed—and the best way to do that is through live streaming. Its interactive nature provides so much room for companies to be creative and is crucial in dissolving communication barriers between brands and their audience. This continuous connection will eventually lead to trust, which is the linchpin for customer retention3. For example, Molbak Garden + Home, a company that specializes in gardening, used live streaming to address common gardening and home care needs amidst the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions. Ironically, through live streaming, the company created a more personal experience for its customersw and invited its audience to engage with their gardening experts. Even with its facilities being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company was still able to connect with its customers4

The gaming sector is among the largest industries to benefit from live-streaming, because of its deep roots in the gaming scene. Gamers use platforms such as Twitch and YouTube to broadcast their live games to their followers. Twitch saw a 96% overall year-over-year growth of hours streamed. Social media giants Facebook and YouTube are also catching up. In 2020, the YouTube community consumed 100 billion hours of gaming content, which is twice the 2018 numbers. On Facebook, the number of hours people spend watching live broadcasts has grown four times over the year. 

However, because live streaming is the content that generates the most interaction, it also provides avenues for abuse and harassment. Toward the end of 2020, Twitch, to stop harassment and hate, introduced new rules which include a ban against posting the Confederate flag. Apart from that, the platform also made changes to its "Hateful Conduct and Harassment Policy" to involve a prohibition of commenting about a live streamer’s physical attractiveness repeatedly5 6.  

The Solution

While comprehensive community guidelines help companies maintain a safe environment for self-expression and creativity, content moderation is critical in making sure that those guidelines are enforced. User-generated, and especially live, content needs vigilant moderation because many of the decisions require nuanced knowledge and cultural context. Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are significantly helping in addressing the large volume of content that needs moderation, but human intervention is still necessary. There is still much content that AI and ML will have a hard time identifying as a violation of community guidelines and platform policies.

The biggest brands in the social media and gaming industry have partnered with TaskUs to keep their communities safe. One of TaskUs's clients, a leading American video game developer, publisher, and digital distribution company, sought help. They were looking for a partner to help them build and scale an end-to-end player experience in line with their company culture, and provide robust content moderation and content security support for their online platform.

Among the things the company asked Us to do is to moderate live streams and tournaments. Our Teammates monitor all ongoing public user live streams/broadcasts on the client's platform 24/7. Teammates check the list of streaming users every 30 minutes to ensure they are only streaming approved gameplay content on the platform. Among the contents that our content moderators flag are copyright violations such live non-gaming sporting events, a stream of movies or TV, or a stream of a video game not allowed on the client's platform, or more egregious content such as threats and violence.

During official live tournaments hosted by either the client or game developers, our Teammates moderate the live user chat for spam and harassment. Teammates manually check the chatbox and mute users who use banned words or are spamming or harassing the broadcaster or other users. 

The proliferation of user-generated content and its often egregious nature can make this work challenging, this is why we use cutting-edge technologies to enable our online moderators, underpinned by a comprehensive wellness and resiliency framework. We provide holistic support for all content security Teammates throughout their employee lifecycle at TaskUs, as we are invested in their well-being while they perform the difficult but necessary task of moderation. Studies show that happier employees have better performance, and are more resilient and willing to stay for the long term. As a result, TaskUs has consistently surpassed targets on this campaign. The client gave us a target of 99% internal quality score, but we were able to hit 99.6%. In terms of the volume of content flagged per hour, we hit 109.0%.

Reach out to us If you want to know more about how TaskUs keeps online communities safe.

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Ricky Girson
VP, Social, Streaming, & Gaming
Ricky leads the Gaming, Entertainment, and Social Media vertical team at TaskUs. Prior to joining TaskUs, Ricky covered Telecom, Media, and Entertainment at IBM, where he helped strategic clients with their Cloud, AI, and Big Data transformations. Ricky spent over 5 years in the Entertainment Industry, serving roles within leading talent agencies, movie and television studios, and Big Media where he witnessed the rise of streaming, social media, and gaming. He pivoted to Tech to help the Entertainment sector navigate an uncertain future. Ricky's passion is the magic occurring at the convergence and collision of industries like Gaming, Media, and Tech. He resides in Dallas, Texas with his family.