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Facebook moderators break their NDAs to expose desperate working conditions

Facebook moderators break their NDAs to expose desperate working conditions

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  • Workplace trauma in any environment is a serious issue that's received woefully little support, and sadly even less understanding or sympathy from much of society writ large.

    The toll that repeated exposure to environments and conditions that range from physically unhealthy to mentally degrading can

    Workplace trauma in any environment is a serious issue that's received woefully little support, and sadly even less understanding or sympathy from much of society writ large.

    The toll that repeated exposure to environments and conditions that range from physically unhealthy to mentally degrading can be extreme.

    Despite the best intentions of HR tests to screen for personality types to be able to "handle it", no amount of screening can properly predict how individuals will react under such conditions -- particularly if they're prolonged and feel compelled to remain in them due to economic circumstances.

    Casey Newton and others have been doing a great job to shine a light on the dark underbelly of our privileged world where content curation is a liability cost and PR excercise, so it's expense must be mitigated to the greatest degree possible.

    As a result, we get to fight about Alex Jones and similar posts in the same manner as organic vs gm agriculture at the grocery store. And in exactly the same manner, nowhere in that argument will time be found for the low-paid workers toiling at the lowest rung who's physical labour made your enjoyment (and arguments) possible.

    Much like agricultural workers, we're at the point where these low-paid, unsupported, and quite often visible minority screening workers are actually dying due to their employment before many are even willing to consider putting in place standards that would protect them.

    These are the new class of disposables for many. People "just being paid to watch videos / look at pictures." Their suffering will be minimized by many on that ground alone, and this issue will slip away in the face of another major tech scandal or Trump tweet for a good many.

    Only if pressure is brought to bear on their employers -- the major tech platforms -- and on governments overseeing those platforms to identify and support this new class of workers will they have a chance to truly work in am environment that won't rot them from the inside out.

    Not everything's flash in digital. There are salt mines as well. They should never be treated as an acceptable trade-off for our own piece of mind.

  • Important, if unsettling, journalism from @CaseyNewton. There are shittier, worse-paying jobs than these, but none for a company that has made such grandiose claims about its role in society. Facebook simply needs to do better here.

  • Be warned, this article is horribly disturbing. I couldn't finish reading it after a particularly graphic description of how an animal was tortured and killed - streamed live on Facebook where the video was later allowed to remain.

    At Facebook’s worst-performing content moderation site in North America

    Be warned, this article is horribly disturbing. I couldn't finish reading it after a particularly graphic description of how an animal was tortured and killed - streamed live on Facebook where the video was later allowed to remain.

    At Facebook’s worst-performing content moderation site in North America, one contractor has died, and others say they fear for their lives.

More contributions

  • This is important. Unsettling, but vitally important journalism. These are the types of working conditions that we hear about in Thailand, Indonesia, etc. This shouldn't be happening in the United States. It also creates an enormous opening for improvements in AI. These are the types of jobs we should

    This is important. Unsettling, but vitally important journalism. These are the types of working conditions that we hear about in Thailand, Indonesia, etc. This shouldn't be happening in the United States. It also creates an enormous opening for improvements in AI. These are the types of jobs we should be happy to see go away. The human toll is horrible, and preventable.

  • And this point I'm not sure any more that breaking up Facebook and/or nationalising it is enough. It may be time to start advocating something more drastic: abolish Facebook.

  • There are a bunch of different issues to parse out here:

    1/ Mental well being of workers in general

    2/ The growing trend of large companies opting to use contractors over full time workers

    3/ What level of responsibility Facebook has to police and enforce certain working standards for their vendors

    There are a bunch of different issues to parse out here:

    1/ Mental well being of workers in general

    2/ The growing trend of large companies opting to use contractors over full time workers

    3/ What level of responsibility Facebook has to police and enforce certain working standards for their vendors

    All three of these issues deserve a separate debate.

  • This is nothing short of criminal abuse of low-income uneducated Americans. Anyone accepting $15 an hour is of the financial class with little to no choice of employment. The human race has a high percentage of sick individuals. I say stop abusing others by makings them “moderate” this shit and move

    This is nothing short of criminal abuse of low-income uneducated Americans. Anyone accepting $15 an hour is of the financial class with little to no choice of employment. The human race has a high percentage of sick individuals. I say stop abusing others by makings them “moderate” this shit and move to AI asap. In the meantime let FB fail when the floodgates of rape, animal mutilation, and all-around evil open. No one should do this job. I feel sick after reading this.

  • This is a tough but important piece to read- and video to watch. I commend the reporter @caseynewton for his hard work. It should be noted that while Facebook is named in the headline there are third party providers that are the ones actually contracted to do the work including hiring and supporting the employees.

  • This is not a new story, rather another unfortunate detail. Focus on why this role is required, start there. Then start cutting access to offenders. As a society we need to step up and demand better, not just from the Facebook's, Apple's, but from our neighbors, our families, our selves. Look to media

    This is not a new story, rather another unfortunate detail. Focus on why this role is required, start there. Then start cutting access to offenders. As a society we need to step up and demand better, not just from the Facebook's, Apple's, but from our neighbors, our families, our selves. Look to media, who propagated and give platforms to divisive rhetoric, start celebrating successes instead of magnifying negatives. "We" need to create incentives for people to do "good". Reevaluate how we define value, include humanity and kindness, not just more. Build systems for people to be healthy, not just false comparisons and unattainable ideals (see: Photoshop, Kardashians)

  • Another superb Facebook moderation scoop from Casey Newton showing how content moderation for one of the world's largest, active social networks is not humanely sustainable or healthy:

    "A Facebook content moderator working for Cognizant in Tampa had a heart attack at his desk and died last year. Senior

    Another superb Facebook moderation scoop from Casey Newton showing how content moderation for one of the world's largest, active social networks is not humanely sustainable or healthy:

    "A Facebook content moderator working for Cognizant in Tampa had a heart attack at his desk and died last year. Senior management initially discouraged employees from discussing the incident, for fear it would hurt productivity."

  • As large of a platform as Facebook is, it's going to ouch on the worst corners of human behavior. Facebook needs to ensure that the people who work to protect others from seeing these horrors are compensated properly and provided long term care and support for the damages this work inflicts.

  • It’s too horrifying to read. As if doing this kind of work isn’t dangerous and unhealthy enough on its own.

  • It seems as if there are multiple problems going on that have snowballed. There’s no reason the horrific content the moderators are being exposed to should translate to their own terrible working conditions, but it has, adding insult to injury. Facebook may want to keep an arm’s distance from this reality

    It seems as if there are multiple problems going on that have snowballed. There’s no reason the horrific content the moderators are being exposed to should translate to their own terrible working conditions, but it has, adding insult to injury. Facebook may want to keep an arm’s distance from this reality but it shouldn’t. Facebook clearly has the power dynamic here to make improvements in the lives of these individuals.

  • There are very clear principles that are enumerated in UN PRI on supply chain management and third party or vendor management. Contractors and outsourcing companies generally fall outside of employee or corporate guidelines as not being part of core operations and therefore are not subject to the same

    There are very clear principles that are enumerated in UN PRI on supply chain management and third party or vendor management. Contractors and outsourcing companies generally fall outside of employee or corporate guidelines as not being part of core operations and therefore are not subject to the same standards. With the complex global nature of the technology industry many of these issues do not come to the fore unless they are brought to light by media or activist investors. Very often because of corporate structures the travesty of working conditions among contractors and outsourcers are not subject to local or head quarter regulations. Companies are driven by profitability rather than environmental social governance and the outsourcing industry often fuels these problems. FB is not the only company at issue here.

  • A horrifying but necessary read.

    With livestreamed violence, hate speech and extremist views proliferating on networks like Facebook and Twitter, the voices calling for more content moderation are loud and getting louder -- but what about the people whose job it is to stare at this hatred and violence

    A horrifying but necessary read.

    With livestreamed violence, hate speech and extremist views proliferating on networks like Facebook and Twitter, the voices calling for more content moderation are loud and getting louder -- but what about the people whose job it is to stare at this hatred and violence all day so the rest of us don't have to?

  • This is only one of the many, many practices big internet companies uses as a standard procedure. The outcome is quite logical: people get exhausted not only for the kind of work they perform, but the physical conditions and the long shifts. Plus: they do not get any of the perks of the FB family.

  • This is not just an article about Facebook content moderation. This is a story about how how little power American workers have versus their employers. This is a story about how outsourcing and using contract labor just grinds workers down; it’s a race to the bottom for how little regard must be given

    This is not just an article about Facebook content moderation. This is a story about how how little power American workers have versus their employers. This is a story about how outsourcing and using contract labor just grinds workers down; it’s a race to the bottom for how little regard must be given to the health and well-being of the worker.

    Cognizant makes more money when their “Human Resources” costs are as low as possible.

    This is not some future dystopia: you are expendable today, and you will be replaced when you are worn out, easily replaced by another desperate person ready to be chewed up because what choices do we really have? If you don’t work at these shitty jobs, you’ll become homeless and face starvation. Capitalism depends on the desperation of workers, so even in what should be a society of abundance for all, our economy purposefully subjects people to destitution and suffering as a motivator to keep the bottom half of workers desperate to do whatever awful jobs that employers need bodies to do, and at the lowest possible wage.

    This is about values. Or lack of them at Facebook. Facebook makes a staggering amount of money per employee (actual employees, not contractors), and Facebook compensates its software engineer employees incredibly well, because Mark Zuckerberg thinks that the developers create the value. He’s wrong. Let’s just see how well Facebook could run without content moderators, the people who clean their headquarters, provide their meals, drive their shuttle busses, or any number of important roles that techies overall tend to ignore, take for granted, or even actively despise.

  • While Facebook certainly has to take responsibility for its vendors and hold them accountable, this article is really more about working conditions at Cognizant than at Facebook.

  • Thanks to Hard-nosed journalism from Casey Newton I feel horrified by this article. I'm sure this journalist intended I feel this way, but rarely can anyone elicit that feeling from me, so thank you.

    This type of work is always thought to be done in third world countries. To find such outlandish practices

    Thanks to Hard-nosed journalism from Casey Newton I feel horrified by this article. I'm sure this journalist intended I feel this way, but rarely can anyone elicit that feeling from me, so thank you.

    This type of work is always thought to be done in third world countries. To find such outlandish practices in Tampa or Phoenix is repulsive.

  • Make money at any cost.🙄 That is the message I read between the lines. Cognizant for pitching unrealistic terms to Facebook and they in turn turning a blind eye on how the KPIs are met. If I was a shareholder of cognizant or facebook, I probably could feel the blood on my hands.

  • Good god... How does this company stay in business?

  • Yet another example of the beyond dark side of the digital economy. Even the term “moderation” smacks of Orwellian euphemism. I wonder what would happen if Facebook were not allowed to outsource this horrific task?

  • the digital version of sweatshops

  • Facebook's Dorian Gray's portait.

  • This may seem detached, but honestly what is new? Censorship has always been an issue as long as we've had the internet. The only real concern is how to produce reasonably paid jobs for less opportune people. The graphic nature of the internet is not new with Facebook and will never go away. It's more

    This may seem detached, but honestly what is new? Censorship has always been an issue as long as we've had the internet. The only real concern is how to produce reasonably paid jobs for less opportune people. The graphic nature of the internet is not new with Facebook and will never go away. It's more hypocritical to criticize a business we all use and indirectly contribute to with our own technology work while at the same time pretending life isn't still primal. Facebook is only at fault for exploitation of private data.

  • There’s a lot of melodrama in the article. Its tabloid like.

    Man gets a heart attack at work, and its implied that the work gave him his heart attack. I do not think a 42 year old gets a heart attack because he watched fucked up postings on FB unless he had a preexisting condition.

    Man with anxiety

    There’s a lot of melodrama in the article. Its tabloid like.

    Man gets a heart attack at work, and its implied that the work gave him his heart attack. I do not think a 42 year old gets a heart attack because he watched fucked up postings on FB unless he had a preexisting condition.

    Man with anxiety and depression takes a job watching violent content presumably to “move up”, discovers it too unsettling but doesn’t quit.

    The point of the article is to scream “Facebook is BAD” even though the folks work for Cognizant.

    Not convinced.

  • Terrible conditions!

  • I wish I could work at this place. I'd love to see the wild nonsense people overly share

  • Amazing