Sarah Roberts – Keynote Speaker

Author and scholar who specializes in content moderation of social media, expert in the areas of internet culture, social media, digital labor, and the intersections of media and technology

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Specialist Subjects

  • Commercial Content Moderation: Digital Labor, Dirty Work
  • Fail Whale: What on Earth Is Going on at Twitter?
  • Is Corporate Social Media the Best Way?



  • English


Sarah T. Roberts is an associate professor at UCLA (Gender Studies, Information Studies, Labor Studies), specializing in Internet and social media policy and culture, and the intersection of media, technology and society. She is the faculty director and co-founder of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry (C2i2), co-director of the Minderoo Initiative on Technology & Power, and a research associate of the Oxford Internet Institute.

Roberts researches information work and workers, and is a leading global authority on “commercial content moderation,” the term she coined to describe the work of those responsible for making sure media content posted to major commercial social platforms fit within legal, ethical, and the site’s own guidelines and standards. She is frequently consulted on matters of policy, worker welfare, and governance related to content moderation issues and the broader social media landscape. She can be seen and heard in many news reports, interviews, podcasts and programs. Additionally, she has experience in industry as a consultant and researcher, most recently working as a Staff Researcher for Twitter in 2022.

She is a 2018 Carnegie Fellow and winner of the 2018 Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Barlow Pioneer Award in recognition of her work on commercial content moderation. She is a 2023 honoree of the 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics.

Her book, Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media, was released in June 2019 and in paperback with a new preface in early 2022 (Yale University Press) and in a French edition, Derrière les écrans (Éditions La Découverte) in October 2020. A Mandarin edition will appear in early 2023.

Popular Talks by Sarah Roberts

Commercial Content Moderation: Digital Labor, Dirty Work

An overview of 13 years researching at-scale moderation of social media, which Sarah refers to as commercial content moderation. Describes origins of phenomenon, key aspects of its human labor, historical roots in colonialism, contemporary challenges of moderation labor and practice.

Fail Whale: What on Earth Is Going on at Twitter?

Sarah gives her professional and personal take as a longtime researcher, power user, and former employee at Twitter of the dangers and disasters of the Musk takeover thus far, as well as those to come, and what avenues of escape might exist.

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