Facebook Is Too Big to Moderate

The numbers make it painfully obvious

Lance Ulanoff
Published in
5 min readMay 11, 2021


Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash

More than a third of the global population of 7.8 billion people use Facebook. They post 350 million photos a day and no one seems to know (except Facebook) exactly how many overall posts Facebook sees per second (it has to be in the millions).

Now imagine human moderators standing before that tsunami of content, all 15,000 of them, spread across the globe, interpreting languages, nuances, cultural norms, political imperatives, and ideological nuances for content that crosses the line. It’s like a feather trying to hold back a hurricane.

I’ve known these numbers for a long time and have always understood, in the abstract, Facebook’s scale problem. However, something Gretchen Peters, the founder of CEO of the Alliance to Combat Online Crime, told The Today Show this week crystalized the scale of the problem for me in a way no one has done before.

Today correspondent Kate Snow was asking about the strategies Facebook and others already have in place for moderating content. Peters shook her head and said:

“The number of moderators that these firms employ is just tiny.”

I thought, Tiny? they literally have thousands.

Peters continued:

“We ran the numbers with Facebook. The number of moderators per Facebook user would be the equivalent of the state of Ohio having one policeman.”

I thought, That has to be an exaggeration.

It is and it isn’t. Ohio currently has a population of 11.7 million. If you divide 2.8 billion by 15,000, you get one moderator per roughly every 186,000. So it’s more like six police officers for all of Ohio.

Peters’ point, though, was made.

There’ve been calls for Facebook and other social media platforms to fundamentally change their approach. A 2020 NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights study recommended that in addition to ending all content…



Lance Ulanoff

Tech expert, journalist, social media commentator, amateur cartoonist and robotics fan.