Moderating for a Friend of Mine: Content Moderation as Affective Reproduction in Chinese Live-streaming

Fan Xiao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Bridging the theory of affective labor and reproductive labor, this paper proposes ‘affective reproduction’ as a critical framework to analyze the unpaid work of volunteer content moderation. Findings from this study problematize the one-sided focus on streamers in the extant literature on platform labor vis-à-vis live-streaming. It contends that fan moderators help streamers reproduce the live-streaming atmosphere as friendly, pleasant, and relevant, facilitating Internet celebrities’ money-making. This study contributes to studies of digital labor in two ways: 1) it expands the labor and work perspective to the study of content moderation and discloses the indirect value-generating nature of this work; 2) the designation of moderator in Chinese live-streaming platforms reveals a new form of work organization that exploits digital intimacy, transforming platform users into non-professional, secondary cultural workers. The proposed framework is applicable to various forms of participatory media, in which users are encouraged to manage and regulate their peers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-77
Number of pages18
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Issue number1
Early online date24 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

User-Defined Keywords

  • affective atmosphere
  • affective labor
  • content moderation
  • live-streaming
  • reproductive labor


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