"Thinking Slow" in Toxic Language Annotation with Explanations of Implied Social Biases


Toxicity annotators and content moderators often default to mental shortcuts when making decisions. This can lead to subtle toxicity being missed, and seemingly toxic but harmless content being over-detected. We introduce BiasX, a framework that enhances content moderation setups with free-text explanations of statements’ implied social biases, and explore its effectiveness through a large-scale crowdsourced user study. We show that indeed, participants substantially benefit from explanations for correctly identifying subtly (non-)toxic content. The quality of explanations is critical: imperfect machine-generated explanations (+2.4% on hard toxic examples) help less compared to expert-written human explanations (+7.2%). Our results showcase the promise of using free-text explanations to encourage more thoughtful toxicity moderation.