- An ex-moderator of Facebook content, Chris Gray, is suing both Facebook Ireland and the contracting company that directly employed him after claiming disturbing content led to PTSD.
- According to court documents, Gray reviewed approximately 1000 pieces of content – known as “tickets” – per night. The initial focus of his work was pornographic content, and then content “that had been reported as being threatening, hateful, bullying, or otherwise dangerous.”
- In leaked audio from an all-hands meeting at Facebook in October, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said reports about the unpleasant nature of the work at the company’s moderation centres were “a little overdramatic.”
- A Facebook spokesman told Business Insider that the firm is “committed to providing support for those that review content for Facebook as we recognize that reviewing certain types of content can sometimes be difficult.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Facebook is being sued by one of its former content moderators after claiming the work caused him to develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
Chris Gray, now a tour guide who left his content moderation job around two years ago, is suing both Facebook Ireland and CPL, the contracting company that employed him directly.
According to Vice, Gray is leading the lawsuit but it includes other former CPL workers and has been filed in Ireland.
Speaking to Business Insider, a Facebook spokesman said: “We are committed to providing support for those that review content for Facebook as we recognize that reviewing certain types of content can sometimes be difficult. Everyone who reviews content for Facebook goes through an in-depth, multi-week training program on our Community Standards and has access to extensive psychological support to ensure their wellbeing.
“This includes 24/7 on-site support with trained practitioners, an on-call service, and access to private healthcare from the first day of employment. We are also employing technical solutions to limit their exposure to graphic material as much as possible. This is an important issue, and we are committed to getting this right.”
Business Insider has also contacted CPL for comment.
Facebook indirectly employs an estimated 15,000 content moderators worldwide, with many of these directly employed by contracting firms such as CPL. Their job is to trawl through numerous pieces of inappropriate or otherwise disturbing content, whether violent, pornographic or hateful in nature.
Their salaries are often meagre, with a typical US content moderator receiving $28,800 per year – that’s tens of thousands of times smaller than Zuckerberg’s own annual income.
According to court documents seen by The Guardian, Gray reviewed approximately 1,000 pieces of content – known as “tickets” – per night. The initial focus of his work was pornographic content, and then content “that had been reported as being threatening, hateful, bullying, or otherwise dangerous.”
Some of these tickets remain “particularly marked” in Gray’s mind, according to the legal writ filed by Gray and his lawyers and cited by The Guardian, including footage of a woman being stoned to death, people being tortured with molten metal, and dogs being cooked alive, as well as a video set to a musical soundtrack that “collaged” people dying in different accidents.
Gray also told the publication that he couldn’t switch off from the work. “You would wake up and you’re remembering the video of someone machine-gunning people in the Middle East somewhere, trying to think whether there was an Isis flag, and so whether it should be marked as terrorism-related or not.”
He added that the job continued to negatively affect his daily life.
“It took me a year after I left to realise how much I’d been affected by the job. I don’t sleep well, I get in stupid arguments, have trouble focusing.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has downplayed the idea that moderating content on the giant social network might cause trauma.
In leaked audio from an all-hands meeting at Facebook in October, Zuckerberg described reports of moderator trauma as “a little overdramatic.”
“From digging into them and understanding what’s going on, it’s not that most people are just looking at just terrible things all day long,” he added at the same meeting. “But there are really bad things that people have to deal with, and making sure that people get the right counselling and space and ability to take breaks and get the mental-health support that they need is a really important thing.”
In October, Zuckerberg declined to police disturbing Facebook content for an hour each day when challenged to do so by Rep. Katie Porter of California. He said he was “not sure that it would best serve our community for me to spend that much time” moderating content.