Machine learning (ML) is widely used to moderate online content. Despite its scalability relative to human moderation, the use of ML introduces unique challenges to content moderation. One such challenge is predictive multiplicity: multiple competing models for content classification may perform equally well on average, yet assign conflicting predictions to the same content. This multiplicity can result from seemingly innocuous choices during model development, such as random seed selection for parameter initialization. We experimentally demonstrate how content moderation tools can arbitrarily classify samples as toxic, leading to arbitrary restrictions on speech. We discuss these findings in terms of human rights set out by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), namely freedom of expression, non-discrimination, and procedural justice. We analyze (i) the extent of predictive multiplicity among state-of-the-art LLMs used for detecting toxic content; (ii) the disparate impact of this arbitrariness across social groups; and (iii) how model multiplicity compares to unambiguous human classifications. Our findings indicate that the up-scaled algorithmic moderation risks legitimizing an algorithmic leviathan, where an algorithm disproportionately manages human rights. To mitigate such risks, our study underscores the need to identify and increase the transparency of arbitrariness in content moderation applications. Since algorithmic content moderation is being fueled by pressing social concerns, such as disinformation and hate speech, our discussion on harms raises concerns relevant to policy debates. Our findings also contribute to content moderation and intermediary liability laws being discussed and passed in many countries, such as the Digital Services Act in the European Union, the Online Safety Act in the United Kingdom, and the Fake News Bill in Brazil.
We introduce a new differential privacy (DP) accountant called the saddle-point accountant (SPA). SPA approximates privacy guarantees for the composition of DP mechanisms in an accurate and fast manner. Our approach is inspired by the saddle-point method -- a ubiquitous numerical technique in statistics. We prove rigorous performance guarantees by deriving upper and lower bounds for the approximation error offered by SPA. The crux of SPA is a combination of large-deviation methods with central limit theorems, which we derive via exponentially tilting the privacy loss random variables corresponding to the DP mechanisms. One key advantage of SPA is that it runs in constant time for the $n$-fold composition of a privacy mechanism. Numerical experiments demonstrate that SPA achieves comparable accuracy to state-of-the-art accounting methods with a faster runtime.