“They Suggest Karaoke Or Painting”: Facebook Content Moderator Questions Support Systems

?stanbul, Turkey - February 10, 2014: Businessman figurines standing in front of Apple iPad monitor  displaying start-up screen of Facebook application. Facebook is one of the most visited social networking website in the world.

A Facebook moderator has lifted the lid on what it is like to work in a role that requires employees to review graphic violence, exploitation, extremism, abuse and suicide.

26-year-old content moderator Isabella Plunkett, who still works for Covalen (one of Facebook’s largest contractors in Ireland) spoke during a hearing in the Irish Parliament regarding the platform’s treatment of moderators.

She explained that while structures are in place to help employees deal with the challenges associated with the role, often the initiatives miss the mark.

“To help us cope, they offer ‘wellness coaches,’” Plunkett said.

“These people mean well, but they’re not doctors. They suggest karaoke or painting – but you don’t always feel like singing, frankly, after you’ve seen someone battered to bits.”

She also said she had received a referral to the company doctor but failed to hear back.

“I have horrible lucid dreams about the things I’ve seen and for months I’ve been taking antidepressants because of this content,” she told the committee.

Josh Sklar, meanwhile, who worked as a content moderator for Accenture, has also described what it is like to moderate the sometimes horrific content that appears on Facebook.

“You’re reviewing, you know, maybe hundreds of pieces of content a day, and of that content, a really healthy percentage of it is bad stuff,” he said. “I mean, we’re talking everything from hate speech, to animal mutilation, to videos of people committing suicide, child pornography,” he told NBC News.

Sklar explained that the role was largely an entry-level position and had a very high turnover. He was initially paid $US16.50 an hour and eventually earned $US18 an hour.

 




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