How to use GPT-4 for Content Moderation

Saturday, September 16, 2023 by Olesia
How to use GPT-4 for Content Moderation

Content moderation is one of the biggest challenges facing online platforms today. With the exponential growth of user-generated content, platforms are struggling to effectively moderate content in a way that balances freedom of speech with community safety. This is where large language models like GPT-4 come in.

What is Content Moderation?

content moderation woth GPT-4

Content moderation refers to the practice of monitoring user-generated content on online platforms and removing or restricting access to content that violates platform policies. This includes content that is illegal, harmful, or otherwise objectionable. Moderation helps protect users, enforce community guidelines, and ensure a positive environment.

Moderation typically involves a combination of automated tools and human reviewers. Some common categories of content that are moderated include:

  • Hate speech, bullying, and harassment
  • Violent, gory, or sexually explicit material
  • Misinformation and fake news
  • Spam and commercially deceptive content
  • Illegal activities like piracy, fraud, or sale of prohibited goods

The Challenges of Content Moderation

people workikgn on the AI content moderation application

Moderating content at the scale of large online platforms is an enormous challenge. Every minute, massive amounts of content are uploaded by users around the world. YouTube alone has over 500 hours of video uploaded every minute. Traditional moderation approaches struggle to keep up with this volume.

In addition, content moderation requires deep understanding of context and nuance to judge whether content violates policies. Policies themselves can be complex documents tens or hundreds of pages long. Moderation decisions often rely on subjective human judgment, leading to inconsistent policy application.

The combination of huge scale and complexity makes content moderation extremely difficult to do well. Platforms must balance moderation accuracy, policy consistency, and speed. Overly aggressive moderation risks limiting free speech, while under-moderation allows harmful content to proliferate.

How GPT-4 Can Help with Content Moderation

AI developers workikng on AI application for content moderation in the office

GPT-4 offers new possibilities for improving content moderation. As a large language model trained on vast datasets, it has strong capabilities for understanding natural language and context. GPT-4 can be used in two main ways for content moderation:

1. Automating Policy Understanding

Human moderators must thoroughly learn the details of complex content policies. This training takes significant time and must be updated whenever policies change.

GPT-4 can rapidly absorb the nuances in large policy documents. By providing GPT-4 with content policies, it can automate the process of understanding policies and applying them consistently.

The process involves an iterative loop:

  • Start with a small dataset of content examples labeled by policy experts as violating policies or not.
  • GPT-4 also labels the same examples without seeing the human labels.
  • We compare GPT-4's labels to the human labels and identify disagreements.
  • GPT-4 is asked to explain its reasoning for the labels. Ambiguities in the policy are identified and clarified.
  • The updated policy is given back to GPT-4 and the process repeats.

Each loop further refines the policy and aligns GPT-4's judgments. This cuts down policy training from months to hours.

2. Automated Content Screening

Once GPT-4 has absorbed content policies, it can start autonomously moderating large volumes of content.

GPT-4 reads a piece of content, considers the policy criteria, and decides if the content should be flagged or permitted. This acts as an automated first-pass filter to catch obvious policy violations.

Borderline or difficult cases can be escalated to human moderators. But a large portion of moderation volume is handled automatically by GPT-4.

This filtering speeds up moderation and reduces the burden on human reviewers. It also applies policies consistently at a massive scale.

Prompting GPT-4 for Content Moderation

an AI-generated pencil

Reviewing Toxicity in Comments

"Here is a comment left by a user on a post: [example comment]. How would you rate the toxicity level of this comment on a scale of 1 to 5 based on our comment moderation policy? Please explain your rating."

Assessing Hate Speech in Ads

"Here is an ad submitted by an advertiser: [example ad copy]. Does this ad contain hate speech or promote hate towards protected groups based on our advertising policies? Please select yes or no and provide the specific policy basis for your decision."

Judging Sexualization in Image Posts

"Here is an image post submitted by a user: [example image]. Does this image contain nudity or sexually suggestive content that violates our community rules against sexualization? Please make a moderation decision and cite the relevant policy standards that influenced your judgment."

Identifying Medical Misinformation in Videos

"Here is an excerpt from a video uploaded by a user: [transcript from video]. Does this video promote demonstrably false or misleading claims about COVID-19, vaccines, or other medical topics per our misinformation policies? Please select yes or no and summarize the basis for your decision."

Using real-world content examples across different formats like comments, ads, images, and videos can help train GPT-4 on practical moderation scenarios and nuances it would encounter as a moderation system.

Benefits of Using GPT-4 for Content Moderation

Applying GPT-4 to help automate moderation offers many advantages:

Speed and Scale

GPT-4 can screen content orders of magnitude faster than humans. This increases throughput and reduces response times for taking down abusive content.


Humans make subjective moderation judgments that lead to uneven policy enforcement. GPT-4 eliminates subjectivity and adheres strictly to policies.

Reduced Human Burden

Automation by GPT-4 decreases the amount of traumatic/abusive content human moderators are exposed to. This is better for moderator mental health.

Faster Policy Iteration

Updating policies traditionally requires retraining many human moderators. GPT-4 adapts to changes instantly, enabling more agile policy development.


GPT-4 can incorporate the nuances of any platform's bespoke content policies and community norms.

Improved Accuracy Over Time

As GPT-4 ingests more examples and feedback, its moderation precision improves.

Case Study: How Reddit Uses GPT-4 For Content Moderation

the futuristic city

Reddit is an online discussion platform with over 430 million monthly active users and 100,000 different discussion communities. Each community or "subreddit" has its own moderators and content policies.

Reddit tried GPT-4 to help automate moderation for a set of large subreddits. Here's how they did it:

  • Worked with subreddit moderators to document detailed content policies for their communities.
  • Labeled a dataset of 1000 content examples that moderators judged as either violating policies or not.
  • Ran GPT-4 on the same data and compared its content judgments. Identified gaps in policy clarity.
  • Refined the policies based on GPT-4's feedback. Repeated for 5 iterations until happy with policy quality.
  • Deployed GPT-4 as an automated content screener for those subreddits. Analyzed its moderation decisions compared to moderator actions to measure accuracy.
  • Used GPT-4's flags to remove obvious violations faster. escalate borderline cases to human moderators.
  • Saw improved average moderation decision time decrease from 4 hours to under 1 hour. Moderator workload reduced by 30%.
  • Continuously retrain GPT-4 on new examples each month to further improve accuracy.

Reddit plans to expand GPT-4 based moderation to more subreddits, eventually handling first-pass moderation for the majority of its communities.

Current Limitations of GPT-4 for Content Moderation

While promising, using GPT-4 for moderation does have some important limitations currently:

  • Accuracy - GPT-4's moderation judgments are not yet as accurate as expert human moderators. Continued training is needed.
  • Bias - As an AI system, GPT-4 can inherit biases from its training data. Steps must be taken to reduce unfair outcomes.
  • Interpretability - It can be difficult to explain GPT-4's underlying reasoning for moderation decisions. More transparency work is required.
  • Creativity - Automated systems like GPT-4 may struggle to account for nuanced edge cases and creativity in language use. Some human oversight is still beneficial.
  • Manipulation - As an AI system, GPT-4 is susceptible to adversarial attacks trying to manipulate its judgments. Defenses need to be built.

The Future of AI-Assisted Content Moderation

implementation of GPT-4 for content moderation illustrated in AI artwork

GPT-4 marks a major step forward in using AI to help maintain online civility at scale. But it's just the beginning of a new generation of moderation systems.

Some areas for future work include:

  • Hybrid systems - Combining GPT-4 with other techniques like computer vision to interpret multimedia content.
  • Localized models - Training localized models that understand dialects, slang, and cultural nuances for different global user bases.
  • Content generation - Using AI to automatically generate content that nudges users towards healthier behavior.
  • Proactive moderation - Moving from reactive moderation to proactively identifying risks and defusing tensions.
  • Wellbeing AIs - Developing AI assistants focused on user mental health, emotional support, and positive interactions.

As content continues to explode, AI will become an increasingly crucial ingredient for maintaining constructive communities. Used ethically, AI like GPT-4 has huge potential to scale empathy, wisdom, and collective intelligence. The goal is not to maximize automated enforcement, but to allow more space for human creativity, connection, and the better angels of our nature.

Test it yourself or even add it to your next AI application build during the AI Hackathons!