It’s also extremely vague and subjective, though, especially when protecting some people can mean criticizing others. Questioning a certain point of view—even in a way that seems critical or unkind—can sometimes be necessary. Those who commit microaggressions should be told what’s wrong with their actions. Someone repeating a slur should be confronted and educated. In a volatile US election year that has seen a racial reckoning unlike anything since the 1970s and a once-in-a-generation pandemic made worse by misinformation, perhaps being kind is no longer enough.
How will Telepath thread this needle? That will be down to the in-house content moderating team, whose job it will be to police “kindness” on the platform.
It won’t necessarily be easy. We’ve only recently begun understanding how traumatic content moderation can be thanks to a series of articles from Casey Newton, formerly at The Verge, which exposed the sweatshop-like conditions confronting moderators who work on contract at minimum wage. Even if these workers were paid better, the content many deal with is undeniably devastating. “Society is still figuring out how to make content moderation manageable for humans,” Matias says.
When asked about these issues, Estévez emphasizes that at Telepath content moderation will be “holistic” and the work is meant to be a career. “We’re not looking to have people do this for a few months and go,” she says. “I don’t have big concerns.”
Telepath’s organizers believe that the invite-only model will help in this regard (the platform currently supports approximately 3,000 people). “By stifling growth to some extent, we’re going to make it better for ourselves,” says Estévez.
But the model presents another issue. “One of the pervasive problems that many social platforms that have launched in the US have had is a problem with diversity,” Matias says. “If they start with