Facebook has made a lot of noise about its new content moderators. During his grilling by the EU and Congress, CEO Mark Zuckerberg used the 7,500 of them as a catchphrase, repeating several times the company's human hiring spree.
However, one moderator says she developed PTSD after Facebook failed to follow workplace safety guidelines. In a lawsuit, Selena Scola demands that the company set up a medical monitoring fund to test its moderators for PTSD and provide care.
The September 12 lawsuit says content moderators had to view thousands of videos of beheadings, child abuse, and torture daily. It also alleges that Facebook is breaking the guidelines it collaborated with other tech companies to create.
“It is well-documented that repeated exposure to such images can have a profoundly negative effect on the viewer,” said Korey Nelson of law firm of Burns Charest LLP. “Facebook is ignoring its duty to provide a safe workplace and instead creating a revolving door of contractors who are irreparably traumatized by what they witnessed on the job.”
The law firm is proposing a class action lawsuit, meaning it could affect far more than Scola. After working as a content manager via Pro Unlimited Inc. for nine months, Scola was allegedly diagnosed with PTSD.
Facebook says it's reviewing the suit and provides a number of services to its contractors. Speaking to CNET, director of corporate communication Bertie Thomson said:
“We take the support of our contract moderators very seriously. Facebook employees receive [training and benefits] in-house and we also require companies that we partner with for content review to provide resources and psychological support, including on-site counseling – available at the location where the plaintiff worked – and other wellness resources like relaxation areas at many of our larger facilities.”
Of course, the quality and backlog for such services is also a consideration, as well as catering for specific diagnoses. It'll be interesting to see how many contractors agree with Scola's assessment.