Kate Crawford and Tarleton Gillespie, What is a flag for? Social media reporting tools and the vocabulary of complaint, 4 New Media Society (2014). One of the points I most liked:
[F]lags speak only in a narrow vocabulary of complaint. A flag, at its most basic, indicates an objection. User opinions about the content are reduced to a set of imprecise proxies: flags, likes or dislikes, and views. Regardless of the proliferating submenus of vocabulary, there remains little room for expressing the degree of concern, or situating the complaint, or taking issue with the rules. There is not, for example, a flag to indicate that something is troubling, but nonetheless worth preserving. The vocabulary of complaint does not extend to protecting forms of speech that may be threatening, but are deemed necessary from a civic perspective. Neither do complaints account for the many complex reasons why people might choose to flag content, but for reasons other than simply being offended. Flags do not allow a community to discuss that concern, nor is there any trace left for future debates.
We often speak of the internet as a boon for communities, but it is so only in certain ways, and it can be structured so that certain kinds of communities have a harder time forming or discussing particular issues. I have similar concerns with Amazon’s Kindle Worlds compared to the organic, messy world of noncommercial fan fiction, for example.