Facebook pushes back against moderators complaining about ‘Big Brother’ environment

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Facebook contractors have had enough.

Revenge porn, inappropriate interactions with children, hate speech, child exploitation imagery, and graphic violence—these are some examples of what content moderators, employed by Facebook as contractors, have to deal with every day. But an internal letter posted to the company’s message board and obtained by Business Insider denounced the company for prohibiting contractors from talking about their jobs, among other concerns.

A Facebook spokesperson told the Daily Dot in an email the story published in Business Insider was the result of a “misunderstanding” by employees contracted through the firm Accenture, and that there was no recent change in operating rules at the Austin, Texas location where the complaint originated.

But in the letter, published yesterday, Facebook contractors denounce the “Big Brother” environment they were allegedly experiencing, as well as inferior treatment compared to full-time Facebook employees.

“One cannot reasonably expect workers to not only sign an NDA [non-disclosure agreement], that forbids us from venting to our loved ones about our work day, but also insulate ourselves from the outside world and its circumstances for 90 percent of the day,” the memo said.  Contingent workers are part of the Community Operations team and are hired by Accenture Flex, operated by Accenture in Austin, Texas. The employees in question are responsible for keeping the social network clear of disturbing content.

The employees have signed non-disclosure agreements, but, according to the memo, Accenture has recently placed more restrictions on their break and “wellness” time.  Now, these contractors claim they are not allowed to leave the property while on break, make phone calls during their working hours, or have guests at the office.

In an email to the Daily Dot, a Facebook spokesperson said that no new rules have been implemented and that team members are encouraged to take wellness breaks at any time during the day. Facebook adds that content reviewers are not permitted to have guests in the café because it is located in the secure area of the facilities, close to where the content review happens, making it a privacy concern for users.

According to the Business Insider story, conditions for moderators contrast with regular Facebook employees’, who get free bike repair, have the option to their eggs frozen, and receive a wellness allowance. The letter adds, “We hope by publishing this letter internally, we can restore our sense of humanity and dignity in the workplace.”

“There have been no changes in operating rules at this location and appears to be a misunderstanding of policies and procedures that are in place,” a Facebook spokesperson told the Daily Dot via email, echoing a statement provided to Business Insider. “We take these concerns seriously and are working closely with our partner who is addressing these concerns with their employees. ”

The Facebook spokesperson added that the employee who drafted the letter was a full-time employee out of the Austin office, on behalf of another employee. The company said it is not attempting to identify the person and is instead working with Accenture to make sure policies and procedures are understood.

Accenture did not respond to an email from the Daily Dot seeking comment.

H/T Business Insider

 

Stephanie Fillion

Stephanie Fillion

Stéphanie Fillion is a French-Canadian journalist covering politics and foreign affairs in Montreal, Canada. She has worked for Radio-Canada in Vancouver and was a San Paolo fellow at La Stampa in Turin. In 2015, she won the Eu-Canada Young Journalist Award. She holds an M.A. in Journalism, Politics and Global Affairs from Columbia Journalism School and a B.A. in Comparative Politics, History and Italian Studies from McGill University. Her work appeared in outlets such as Quartz, Vice News, Ipolitics, and PassBlue.