- Facebook has long faced criticism over its treatment of thousands of contracted content moderators.
- A moderator who recently quit reportedly shared a note internally condemning Facebook over these practices.
- The post pushes for moderators to be treated better, as well as have more say over policy-making.
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Before quitting his job Wednesday morning at Facebook a content moderator in Texas took the opportunity to call out the company’s disconnected moderation system and its failure to support moderators.
The note was shared on Twitter by BuzzFeed News’ Ryan Mac, who said it came from a content moderator contracted through Accenture in Austin, Texas. The note slams Facebook leadership for encouraging moderators to do “breathing exercises” instead of providing adequate mental health support, as well as severing the connection between the people responsible for making the platform’s policies and the moderators who spend the most time enforcing them.
“Taking a few deep breaths or visualizing a calm beach might allow you to get back to work, but it doesn’t do a lot for stress induced insomnia after you get home,” the post said. ‘We’re the tonsils of the internet, a constantly bombarded first line of defense against potential trauma to the userbase.”
-Ryan Mac🙃 (@RMac18) April 14, 2021
The content moderator’s allegations echo years of similar criticism Facebook has faced over its moderation system and its treatment of its moderators. There are more than 15,000 moderators at Facebook, and most are contracted through third-party firms meaning they don’t get the same benefits as the company’s salaried employees. Instead, moderators have told stories about being forced to watch hours of gruesome content, leading to brutal working conditions and post-traumatic stress disorder diagnoses.
“Content analysts are paid to look at the worst of humanity for eight hours a day,” the post from the moderator continues. “This is a job that’s impossible not to take home with you.”
The Wall Street Journal once described being a Facebook moderator as “the worst job in technology.” Moderators have disclosed watching hours of child abuse, gory violence, and murders, and suicides. Moderators – including those working out of Accenture’s Austin office – have shared accounts of a “big brother environment” where managers restricted their breaks and phone use, provided mental health resources in the form of “wellness coaches,” and had them sign incredibly strict NDAs.
Current and former moderators took on Facebook in a class-action lawsuit over the mental health implications they faced from their jobs. The lawsuit was settled in 2020, and Facebook agreed to pay out $52 million to tens of thousands of affected moderators.
The content moderator’s exit message goes beyond the mental health effects. It also slammed Facebook’s content moderation system as a whole in which moderators, who spend the most time watching content, have “the least input as to policy.” The result is that issues take “months” to be addressed, and moderators are punished if they even tried to contact the policy team, the moderator said in the post.
“The current system is bad not only for content analysts but for Facebook itself,” the post reads. “I hope you figure out a way to stop constantly starting PR fires and traumatizing people en masse.”
Facebook did not respond to Insider’s request to confirm the authenticity of the moderator’s post.