Imagine being exposed to all of the hateful, terrible and evil things human beings are capable of, 8 hours day. Well if you are a Facebook content moderator, this is your job. The tech news outlet Verge goes into great detail about the awful conditions these moderators are put through. Cognizant, is a contracted vendor of Facebook. You may be wondering why you have never heard of a company that is employed by one of the biggest companies in the world. That is because Cognizant operates in privacy by having employees sign NDA’s that prohibits them from discussing their work or that the organization is contracted by Facebook. The company states this is for the privacy and protection of employees and Facebook users, but that seems flimsy at best. It should always raise eyebrows when a publicly traded company is engaging in nefarious partnerships with other companies. We are acutely aware of what happened the last time Facebook didn’t want us to know about an off the record contract or just last week when it was discovered through app partnerships that Facebook knows…..when women are ovulating.
The opening sentence of the article describes a training program in a classroom setting, where prospective employees are exposed to graphic videos. One video in particular, is a snuff clip where someone is killed. The trainees have to view this video, then decide if it violates Facebook’s guidelines and the exact infraction. This particular site in Phoenix, Arizona is said to employee about 1,000 employees. You would think in such a mentally and socially taxing job they would offer support services to workers around the clock but instead there are only a few part time counselors and the counselors seem more concerned with prepping you to get back to work.
The article delves into how miserable and toxic the work environment is for these contracted moderators. For instance, the stark differences in pay. The total yearly compensation of a Facebook employee is said to be around 240k but for contracted moderators, the yearly average salary is 28k. This pay gap is noticeable because in its last fiscal quarter, Facebook posted record profits. Moderators aren’t privy to any of the perks and benefits that a Facebook employee receives. They are severely micromanaged, all personal items are forced to be kept in a locker during your shift, security at the office is heightened in the event a user or former employee looks to aggressively confront the company. Due to such a high turnover, the workers do not get private computers or private working spaces and despite the billions of daily posts these moderators go through, a couple mistakes in a week is grounds for termination.
One of the most jaw dropping parts in the article is that moderators view about 400 posts a day between Facebook and Instagram (owned by Facebook) which means one person is being exposed to over 2,000 posts a week of bullying, hate speech, conspiracy theories, extremely graphic and violent videos. Such an alarming statistic is followed by a frightening revelation, several current and former workers expressed that they now believe the Earth is flat and they no longer believe in factual events like 9/11 or the Holocaust. When discussing the massive expansions and growth of major social media and tech companies, we often forget about all the people who will need to be used, hurt, and discarded to make those dreams a reality.
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