Online Harms and Content Moderation

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As the technology is developing, according to “Social media platforms afford their users new opportunities to speak and interact with a wider range of people, organising them into networked publics” (Boyd, 2010)(Varnelis, 2008). The internet revolutionises the way and increase the effectiveness as people engage with information. However, there are sensitive contents like pornographic, gory and other illegal contents that people can easily access even if they have no intentions. Therefore, content moderation is crucial for addressing the legality and security of online information. In this blog, we will talk about online harms caused by pornography and hate language, the effects they will bring to individual and overall social impact. We will look at different cases and analyse them in-depth, hopefully to develop a deeper understanding and learn how to react to online harms. Hence ensure the cyberspace becomes a safer and better environment.

Pornography content

In the internet era, people from all ages are able to obtain information and use online platforms for entertainment. There is a possibility for them to engage with sensitive contents – pornography. Especially the teenagers will spend relatively longer time on the internet. In this age group, they are mostly in their puberties and curious about the it because they are not allowed to visit the “restricted” websites, or they haven’t learnt about sex education. As a result, this age group are more likely to be addicted to pornography.

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Exploring gameplay content: Genshin Impact

An example is that Chinese government’s censorship of game content from “Genshin Impact” where female characters involve soft pornography because they look seductive.

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Examining Consequences and Concerns

It leads to an individual’s excessive focus on sex and may even trigger sexualized behaviours or attitudes. Teenagers may tend to frequently seek sexual stimulation, including viewing sexual content, browsing adult websites, or obtaining sexual information from other sources.

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How did Chinese government handle?

Although the age rating is 16+, people under the age of 18 are still able to play this game. This situation emphasises the importance of age rating systems and highlights the effectiveness of some age rating systems in preventing teens from being exposed to inappropriate content. To prevent teenagers from being exposed to soft porn, the Chinese government have rejected the original game content to be released and asked MiHoYo to redesign their appearance.

‘Genshin Impact’ Players Discover Censored Chinese Outfits Are Permanent Story Additions

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Revealed content must comply with national regulations and laws to ensure that the content meets the standards set by the law. “Many nations, perhaps most notably China, see an authoritarian internet, where technologies of surveillance and identification help ensure social cohesion.” (Kieron O’Hara, Wendy Hall, 2018)This also reflects the government’s supervision and restrictions on content.

Why important?

Reviewing pornographic contents is vital to minimise the risk of teenagers engaging but it is hard to achieve because there are countless websites and limited censorship tools. Content censorship can effectively protect them from further exposure of more unsafe contents like sexual violence. 

Unveiling the dangers: a teenager’s encounter with pornography content

In contrast, the UK doesn’t have strict content censorship as Chinese government does. They get access to pornography much easier but might lead to a serious situation and the problem will rise to ethical level. “A 12-year-old boy who raped a nine-year-old girl after viewing pornography on the internet has avoided a custodial sentence…” (News, 2012) He was afforded unfettered access to the internet, and it has become apparent from a very young age he was accessing hard-core pornography. This is an example of a child exposed to pornographic content and mimic in real-life. It can be seen that early viewing of pornographic content by teenagers will not only have a negative impact on his mental, but also implies that Internet content may affect children’s behaviour. After this is reported on the news, it becomes controversial on “pornography censorship”. The government uses filters to filter pornographic content and blacklists content that is not censored. Pornographic content must be removed or face government fines or even imprisonment.

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Hate Language

What is hate language?

“Online hate speech refers to the use of offensive language, focused on a specific group of people who share a common property” (Pulgarin, 2021), this can include race, religion and other identifiable characteristics. The growing prevalence of hate speech brings serious challenges to individuals, communities and society. Online platforms and governments therefore have a responsibility to address them. This helps emphasise the urgency for society to take action on hate speech to ensure that public spaces are more inclusive and respectful. 

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Analysing the Controversy: Donald Trump and Allegations of Hate Speech

According to “Recent reports reveal the rampant misuse of these platforms by governments and political parties in over eighty countries engaged in political disinformation campaigns.” (Pramukh Vasist, 2023). Political parties may mislead the people by spreading false information to achieve their own goals. In 2020, Donald Trump referred COVID-19 as China virus and pointed out that it is the reason for the economic downturn in the United States. Donald Trump said in a conference:“It’s not racist at all. No, it’s not at all. It’s from China. That’s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate.” (Ketchell, 2020) He diverted domestic conflicts towards Chinese and used DWT (Diversionary War Theory) to increase approval ratings. It has intensified the contradiction between those who support Trump and the Chinese in the United States. 

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Spread of hate speech can lead to deaths

 For inciting hate speech,leading to Bloodshed: “The results… come in the wake of a string of attacks on Asian communities in the U.S., including a series of shootings in Georgia that left six women of Asian descent dead.” (Reja, 2021) In fact, they are not only targeting the Chinese, but the entire Asian community. They just killed at will for what they thought was a legitimate reason. These kinds of violent incidents are mostly directly caused by Trump’s racial hate language and the victims are innocent. This is closely related to the increase of the overall crime rate. Therefore, it is vital to censor the hate speech online to prevent conflicts from escalating into uncontrollable situations.

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Freedom language VS Hate language

The rise of hate speech online raises important questions about the boundaries of free speech and the impact of harmful language. However, the difference between freedom and hate language can be confusing because they are based on the same principle of free expression. The UN launched the UN Rabat Plan of Action in 2012 and the purpose is to combat hate speech while protecting freedom of expression. Freedom of speech does not override respect and human rights where hate speech does. 

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Approaches to Addressing Hate Speech

Overall, the significance of Internet censorship and UN Rabat Plan is to maintain social order, avoid the recurrence of bloody violence, and protect public interests. To achieve the purpose of censorship and comply with the terms of the law: technology companies must cooperate with the government to censor hate speech and impose penalties for speech that is not retracted for more than 24 hours.

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In summary, hate language can ultimately lead to violence. Text censorship is the only way to moderate and control the use of offensive words in hate language online. It is crucial in the aspect of protecting vulnerable groups and maintaining social cohesion. Combating hate speech is a collective responsibility, and through a combination of effective censorship, education, and increased awareness, we can work towards a more inclusive and respectful digital space.


In conclusion, content moderation helps keep explicit content away from young minds, and censoring hateful language can prevent social divisions and racial conflicts caused by hurtful speech. It’s important to protect everyone from potential online risks and create a positive digital space since we have such a great population have access to the internet. Both social media platforms and the government should monitor illegal content and enforce penalties such as removing the content to minimise the spread of harmful message and imposing fines. Ultimately, it’s our responsibility to take action, recognise and prevent potential harms online.


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Ketchell, M. (2020, April 22). Donald Trump’s ‘Chinese virus’: the politics of naming. Retrieved from The Conversation:

Kieron O’Hara, Wendy Hall. (2018, 12 7). Four Internets: The Geopolitics of Digital Governance. Retrieved from Centre for International Governance Innovation:

News, B. (2012, May 31). Boy spared custody over girl rape after watching porn. Retrieved from BBC News:

Pramukh Vasist, D. C. (2023, April 17). The Polarizing Impact of Political Disinformation and Hate Speech: A Cross-country Configural Narrative. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine:

Pulgarin, S. (2021, April 6). Internet, social media and online hate speech. Systematic review. Retrieved from ScienceDirect:

Reja, D. M. (2021, March 19). Trump’s ‘Chinese Virus’ tweet helped lead to rise in racist anti-Asian Twitter content: Study. Retrieved from ABCNews:

Sergio Andrés Castaño-Pulgarín a, N. S.-B. (May–June 2021). Internet, social media and online hate speech. Systematic review.

Sergio Andrés Castaño-Pulgarín a, N. S.-B. (May–June 2021). Internet, social media and online hate speech. Systematic review. Sergio Andrés Castaño-Pulgarín.

Online Harms and Content Moderation © 2023 by  Ye Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 

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