Social media platforms play an increasingly important civic role as platforms for discourse, where we discuss, debate, and share information. This article explores how users make sense of the content moderation systems social media platforms use to curate this discourse. Through a survey of users (n = 519) who have experienced content moderation, I explore users’ folk theories of how content moderation systems work, how they shape the affective relationship between users and platforms, and the steps users take to assert their agency by seeking redress. I find significant impacts of content moderation that go far beyond the questions of freedom of expression that have thus far dominated the debate. Raising questions about what content moderation systems are designed to accomplish, I conclude by conceptualizing an educational, rather than punitive, model for content moderation systems.

West, S.M. (2018). Censored, Suspended, Shadowbanned: User interpretations of content moderation on social media platforms. New Media & Society, 20(11): 4366-4383. Retrieved from: