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The Secret Lives of Facebook Moderators in America

Over at The Verge, Casey Newton has written an important article revealing what it’s like to work as a content moderator for Facebook. These people—who are contractors working for the professional services firm Cognizant and thus not actual Facebook employees—spend their days reviewing flagged posts, which may include graphic pornography, hate speech, violent attacks, and even murders. It’s up to them to determine what content violate Facebook’s community standards and should be removed. They earn $28,800 per year and generally last only about a year in the job, and many told Newton that they experienced PTSD and other mental health disorders due to their work.

Although Cognizant presented an alternative narrative to Newton on a visit to the campus, the Further Reading sidebar within the article provides numerous other stories of the horrors of being a content moderator in the US and overseas. Not mentioned is a documentary called The Cleaners; Vice published an interview with the filmmakers.

There’s no easy solution to these problems—terrible things will be posted on Facebook that only humans will be able to identify correctly. But it would be interesting to see how Facebook might change its practices if its top executives were to spend a day in the shoes of a content moderator.

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